PBC Commission to Review GL Homes Land Swap Proposal

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A map of the lands of Indian Trails Grove, located generally west of The Acreage and northwest of Westlake.

On Wednesday, December 15, the Palm Beach County commission heard a presentation from GL Homes proposing to move some of its residential rights to Indian Trails Grove, west of The Acreage, in the agricultural reserve west of Delray Beach. .

In return, GL Homes will dedicate 1,600 acres within Indian Trails Grove in Palm Beach County for water resources. Commissioners agreed to discuss the proposal further, but did not specifically support the idea.

Palm Beach County Planning Director Patricia Behn, who was present at the meeting with about 20 of her staff, said the concept proposed by GL Homes would require text changes and future usage changes. comprehensive land plan, as well as a series of zoning applications.

“We have come together, based on guidance from the commissioners at the October 26 board workshop on the agricultural reserve,” Behn said. “The council asked staff to bring us in to meet the developer, GL Homes, to understand their current proposal to transfer some units from the west-south communities to the agricultural reserve in exchange for some 1,600 acres of property.”

She explained that the presentation is unprecedented, as the staff have no report or request or other details to provide.

The Indian Trails Grove site consists of approximately 4,871 acres. In 2016, the county passed future land use and text modification to allow 3,897 residential units and 350,000 square feet of non-residential use on the property. The concept plan includes a 640-acre water retention area and an additional 1,068 acres for water resources or agriculture. A subsequent amendment was proposed by GL Homes to move 2,315 residential development rights from Indian Trails Grove to the agricultural level, but the amendment was withdrawn before consideration.

The plan submitted Wednesday proposes changes to Indian Trails Grove’s approval to remove 1,600 aces from the approved concept plan and transfer those 1,600 acres to Palm Beach County, which would reduce the number of units on the Indian Trails property. Grove from 3,897 to 2,612, a reduction of 1,285 residential units.

He also proposed to cede to the county 30 acres of a 105-acre site for civic uses on the Hyder West property in the agricultural reserve, to construct 250 housing units for labor and other civic uses. on 75 acres of the Hyder West property, to construct and cede to the county a 100-acre passive park on the Hyder West property, and to construct a market-rate project of 1,000 units on the remainder of the Hyder West property. The land is located on the west side of State Road 7, north of Clint Moore Road.

Senior planner Bryan Davis said county staff look for opportunities to negotiate public benefits with larger plots when they come up for development.

“That was the key concept,” Davis said, adding that water management remains a major issue for Western communities.

He explained that GL Homes is a former citrus plantation that encountered problems in 2000 with citrus canker and citrus greening. “The citrus industry has practically ceased to exist as we understand it, particularly in Palm Beach County, so this is a plot that has been owned by GL Homes for some time,” he said. he declares.

GL Homes offered to follow the old county sector plan, which was contested and ultimately rejected, but still followed by pre-existing plans including Minto’s Westlake project and the county-approved GL Homes plan from 2016.

“It has a density of 0.8 per acre, which on about 4,900 acres is about 3,900 units,” Davis said. “It also had a required non-residential square footage. It was intended to be a full community.

He added that GL Homes has provided a significant amount of public benefits, including a 640-acre water retention for the Indian Trail Improvement District. The proposal also offered over 1,000 acres for continued agricultural or water resource development.

GL Homes vice chairman Kevin Ratterree said he was not asking the commission to approve the proposal immediately. “We are simply asking this commission to look at the proposal and determine whether or not this is something that merits further consideration,” Ratterree said, explaining that the process would involve a lot of work at a time to the developer and county staff.

He added that if the commission decides not to pursue the concept, GL Homes will pursue plans for which it has already been approved.

Palm Beach County Water Resources Director Jeremy McBryan said stormwater at the GL Homes site is collected through the L-8 Canal, which sends water either north to Lake Okeechobee, either east to Lake Worth Lagoon, south to the Everglades or to the Grassy Waters Preserve. .

McBryan added that the area has experienced significant flooding problems in the past. “Improving water resources in this region is not new,” he said. “We’ve been talking about it for over 20 years.

He said 1,068 acres of GL Homes were part of the Loxahatchee River planning that ended in 2020.

“Again, [this is] not a new property, not a new area of ​​water resource needs, ”McBryan said. “We have been talking about it for many years by several agencies. “

Palm Beach County Mayor Robert Weinroth said no decision was made at the meeting that day.

“All we’re doing is just giving a signal whether it’s worth putting the next amount of work into it, both on the part of GL and on the part of the staff,” Weinroth said.

After approximately 24 public comments, the Commissioners generally agreed to request a further study of the proposal.

Commissioner Melissa McKinlay said there should be a fair debate on the concept.

“There has to be a quasi-judicial conversation,” she said. “Let’s put exactly what’s on paper on paper, and have a fair debate. There will be times for a fair rebuttal and extensive public comment. “


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