WPB concerns slow work on Seminole Pratt Whitney expansion

Minto’s Westlake Community Center on Seminole Pratt Whitney Road across from Seminole Ridge High School in Westlake. (Allen Eyestone /The Palm Beach Post)

Construction in Palm Beach County’s newest city, Westlake, will add more cars in the coming years to already over-burdened Seminole Pratt Whitney Road.

That’s why the Seminole Improvement District, which oversees road and sewer services in Westlake, wants to widen the road.

But the city of West Palm Beach, mindful of not running afoul of state law giving it control of a part of the M-Canal and a nearby water catchment area, has not issued a license so the bridge over the canal can be widened.

The county has already signed off on the widening project, and Minto Communities, the developer building Westlake, has already agreed to help pay for it.

The dispute with West Palm Beach, however, has slowed work on the project, increasing fears of the type of traffic snarls preservationists warned against when they opposed large-scale development in the area.

A city official says she’s confident the dispute can be worked out. Th Seminole Improvement District has triggered a state-mandated mediation process, which must be pursued before the parties can file suit against one another.

Building in new PBC city of Westlake underway

What does a new city look like when it’s under construction?

A lot like this:

Minto Communities, the developer building Palm Beach County’s newest city, Westlake, has started construction in the first 500 acres of what is expected to be a city of 4,500 homes and 2.2 million square feet of non-residential development along both sides of Seminole Pratt Whitney Road.

Minto Vice President John Carter said the builder has also started work on a town center and the first 300-home subdivision.

Westlake used to be known as Minto West. Minto changed the development’s name not long before backing an effort to incorporate the area, a move that surprised and angered Palm Beach County commissioners who had approved the project over the objections of environmentalists and preservationists.

Up Interstate 95, in Daytona Beach, Minto is partnering with Margaritavile Holdings to build what it describes as an “active adult community” called Latitude Margaritaville.

“With Minto’s expertise in creating master planned developments and Margaritaville’s inherent ability to deliver fun and escapism, Latitude Margaritaville has the exact coordinates for those looking to live the Margaritaville lifestyle as they grow older, but not up,” said John Cohlan, chief executive officer of Margaritaville Holdings.

Minto starts work on expansion of Seminole Pratt Whitney

Minto Communities is touting its work to expand Seminole Pratt Whitney Road in the new city of Westlake.

The builder’s plans call for the construction of 4,500 homes and 2.2 million square feet of non-residential development on 3,800 acres along both sides of Seminole Pratt Whitney Road. In getting its project approved by Palm Beach County, Minto agreed to expand Seminole Pratt Whitney Road.

County commissioners, displeased by Westlake’s incorporation in June, have wondered aloud whether Minto plans to honor commitments it made to set aside land for parks, recreation and drainage, areas over which the new city now has control.

In a press statement, Minto made clear its intention to follow through with the widening of Seminole Pratt Whitney.

“As part of our development order with Palm Beach County, we agreed to step up and commence construction on this substantial improvement to Seminole Pratt Whitney before putting a shovel in the ground for our new community,” Minto Vice President John Carter said. “We are pleased to see this major transportation improvement project starting.”

The project is estimated to cost $19 million and will take one and a half years, Carter said.

Seminole Pratt Whitney is to be expanded from two lanes to four with a landscaped median. The road will be widened from the northern end of Seminole Ridge High School to just past 60th Street North.

John Carter, vice president of Minto Communities, discusses the company's controversial Minto West project in West Palm Beach, Florida on July 30, 2014. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
John Carter, vice president of Minto Communities, discusses the company’s controversial Minto West project in West Palm Beach, Florida on July 30, 2014. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

 

Commission approves comprehensive plan changes for Indian Trails Grove

Palm Beach County commissioners voted 6-1 Thursday in favor of comprehensive plan changes GL Homes sought for its Indian Trails Grove project west of The Acreage.

Commissioners had given preliminary approval of those changes in April. Zoning changes for the 3,900-home project will be addressed early next year.

Check back with http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com later today for more on this story.

map of Indian Trails Grove project
map of Indian Trails Grove project

 

County wants out of suit challenging development orders in Minto case

Palm Beach County has filed a motion to withdraw from a suit challenging development orders it issued to facilitate Minto’s massive project in The Acreage.

Two Loxahatchee area residents and a preservation group, 1000 Friends of Florida, sued Minto and county, arguing that the development orders the county issued violated its comprehensive plan.

Minto and the county won the case, which was appealed.

Now, the county – citing the Minto development area’s incorporation on June 20 as the new city of Westlake – wants out of the case.

“Thus, as of June 20, 2016, the County no longer possessed the authority to administer the development orders it originally issued, rather, the City of Westlake possesses exclusive authority to administer those orders,” the county wrote in a motion filed Tuesday with the 4th District Court of Appeal.

The county’s motion notes that lawyers for those who sued the county and Minto do not object to its request to withdraw from the case.

The attorney representing Minto will handle the appeal, “and the City of Westlake should be substituted for the County,” the county’s lawyers wrote.

Minto's Westlake Community Center sits empty on Seminole Pratt Whitney Road across from Seminole Ridge High School in Westlake, Florida on June 24, 2016. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
Minto’s Westlake Community Center on Seminole Pratt Whitney Road across from Seminole Ridge High School in Westlake, Florida on June 24, 2016. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

 

 

Palm Beach County Commission gets Westlake impact update today

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What impact will  the planned Westlake development, formerly called Minto West, have on the surrounding area? Commissioners will get a report at their regular meeting Tuesday.

Also on the agenda:

Pets: Set to take the first of two votes on tough new rules for pet stores that the head of the county’s Animal Care and Control says are designed to reduce the flow of animals from so-called “puppy mills.”

Vehicles for Hire: Set to take the first of two votes on new “reciprocity” rules for taxis, limos, and app-based rides such as Uber, for five southeast Florida counties.

PBIA: Would approve the replacement of a bookstore at Palm Beach International Airport with a “gourmet market.”

Fire Stations: Would agree to buy the property where it operates two fire-rescue stations for the Village of Royal Palm Beach, saying it was cheaper in the long run than leasing.031616 met barn fire011

Palm Beach County Commission Meeting

When: 9:30 a.m. Tuesday. Public comment at 2 p.m. Where: Sixth-floor chambers, Weisman Palm Beach County Governmental Center, 301 N. Olive Avenue, West Palm Beach

To read more, go later to mypalmbeachpost.com.

Groups that opposed pro-Minto changes ordered to pay attorneys fees

Two Loxahatchee area residents and a pair of preservation groups were ordered to pay attorneys fees after their effort to block changes to Palm Beach County’s comprehensive plan failed.

In a ruling issued earlier this week, Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Donald Hafele said Robert Schutzer, Karen Schutzer, 1000 Friends of Florida and ALERTS of Palm Beach County “knew or should have known” that the changes – approved by the county so the giant Minto West development project could move forward – were permissible.

The Schutzers and the two groups had sued Minto and the county to block the changes. They and others opposed the development project, arguing that it would generate sprawl, gobble up open space and increase traffic.

Minto and the county have won a string of rulings in the case, and the development project – now known as Westlake – is moving forward.

Ryan Smart, president of 1000 Friends of Florida, said his organization has appealed the ruling that cleared the comprehensive plan changes. He said the organization is also seeking a re-hearing on Hafele’s order regarding attorneys fees.

“We strongly disagree with the judge’s ruling, and we will be filing a motion for a re-hearing,” Smart said.

Minto's Westlake Community Center sits empty on Seminole Pratt Whitney Road across from Seminole Ridge High School in Westlake, Florida on June 24, 2016. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
Minto’s Westlake Community Center sits empty on Seminole Pratt Whitney Road across from Seminole Ridge High School in Westlake, Florida on June 24, 2016. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

McKinlay asks IG to look into Minto support for Westlake

Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay has asked the county’s inspector general to look into the support Minto Communities has pledged to the county’s newest city, Westlake.

Westlake’s interim city manager, Ken Cassel, told council members on Monday that Minto Communities will cover any budget shortfall for the next five years.

Minto is the largest landowner in Westlake, and, as such, represents nearly all of the new city’s tax base. The developer plans to build at least 4,500 homes in the area.

McKinlay, whose district represents Westlake, has asked Gov. Rick Scott to investigate the circumstances of the city’s incorporation, which some view as a Minto-inspired move that will allow the builder to go beyond the development limits it had agreed to two years ago with the county.

McKinlay wrote Inspector General John Carey on Wednesday, inquiring about “the legality of a landowner funding the same council that will ultimately decide the landowner’s permits, land use and quasi-judicial zoning issues.”

Check with http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com later today for more on this story.

Commissioner Melissa McKinlay
Commissioner Melissa McKinlay

Westlake city attorney defends her tenure in Port St. Lucie

Pam E. Booker, fired as city attorney in Port St. Lucie but hired for similar work in the new city of Westlake, defended her tenure in her previous job.

She said she was fired for being “too strictly letter of the law” and unwilling to be political in a job she viewed as strictly legal in nature.

Westlake’s hiring of Booker – and its decision to pay Booker’s firm $276,000 per year – will likely increase criticism of how the new city was incorporated.

Stay with http://www.mypalmbeachpost.com for complete coverage of Westlake.

City of Westlake interim city attorney Pam Booker during a city council meeting in Westlake, Florida on July 11, 2016.  (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
City of Westlake interim city attorney Pam Booker during a city council meeting in Westlake, Florida on July 11, 2016. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

 

With one vote, Massey re-elected president of Seminole Improvement District

Scott Massey was re-elected president of the Seminole Improvement District on Monday.

Five residents of the area served by the district recently voted to incorporate the area into Palm Beach County’s newest city, Westlake. But the district continues to provide water and road maintenance services.

Minto's Westlake Community Center sits empty on Seminole Pratt Whitney Road across from Seminole Ridge High School in Westlake, Florida on June 24, 2016. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)
Minto’s Westlake Community Center sits empty on Seminole Pratt Whitney Road across from Seminole Ridge High School in Westlake, Florida on June 24, 2016. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

Massey was re-elected with the only vote that counted — that of John Carter, vice president of Minto Communities, the largest landowner in the district.

District rules allow Carter to cast proxy votes based on majority landownership, and he cast those votes for Massey.