The Royal Palm Beach Planning & Zoning Commission reviewed the site plan for Aldi’s regional distribution center July 24, and recommended approval of the plan.
The 72.5-acre site is located about 1,500 feet south of Okeechobee Blvd. on the west side of State Road 7 and is approved for industrial land use and zoning.
Development Review Coordinator Kevin Erwin said the applicant is seeking approval as a planned industrial development (PID) for a warehouse and storage building over 400,000 square feet, both of which are special-exception uses in an industrial zoning district.
The proposed PID will include an existing storage facility located at 1201 N. State Road 7, in the northeast corner of the site. The applicant is proposing to subdivide the property into 13 parcels, beginning with parcel 1, the main building of about 821,000 square feet on 42 acres, and parcel 11, an 11-acre water retention area with an 8-acre lake, as well as roadway parcels, Erwin said.
The remaining parcels will remain vacant until being site-planned at a later date. Erwin said the plan meets village code requirements.
The plan also provides sight buffers in accordance with village code except for a required 3-foot berm, for which the applicant has submitted a request for a waiver, which will be reviewed by the village council.
The proposed building will be two stories and 33 feet with a flat roof, which slightly exceeds the allowable building height of 32 feet for the zoning district. He pointed out that recent amendments to the code allow for 1 foot in additional height for every 5 feet of additional setback.
Erwin added that the application complies with the village’s noise ordinance, with the provision of noise walls 8 feet high along the western boundary and 11 feet high along a 1,000-foot portion of the northern boundary. Truck loading will be along the north and east sides of the building, and truck parking along the east side.
Erwin said the application also meets landscaping requirements, except for the previously mentioned berm, and also meets requirements for proposed signage, with a 20-foot-by-12-foot maximum sign that will be in the median of the entrance road.
Erwin said village staff is recommending approval of the application as submitted.
Erdman Anthony Engineer Dana Gillette explained that Aldi is a successful worldwide discount grocer.
“They are making a significant investment in Florida,” Gillette said. “They’ve got a significant number of stores in the central part of the state, and they’re opening up a lot of stores here in South Florida. They are expecting to open at least 60 stores, so they need a distribution center to serve them, and they will be operating these stores and this distribution center for many decades to come. They’re looking for the long haul on this project.”
Gillette said Aldi spent several years searching throughout South Florida for the most appropriate site. “They were looking for things like traffic, and a community that was pro-business, and one that had a good neighborhood for their future employees to live and work in,” she said. “I think we’re pretty fortunate to have them here.”
Gillette said the site is surrounded by a number of different uses, including Royal Palm Beach High School and a townhouse community in unincorporated Palm Beach County to the north, a strip mall and self-storage facility to the northeast, State Road 7 and the Regal Cinema to the east, the industrial park to the south including the school bus yard, and the Willows single-family community to the west.
The existing site is mostly vacant, filled with invasive exotic plant species, she said. The existing entrance road from State Road 7 will be rebuilt to accommodate heavy truck loads, and turn lanes on State Road 7 have received conceptual approval from the Florida Department of Transportation. The road will be 55 feet and have curbs and sidewalks with trees and landscaping on both sides with an overall easement of 77 feet.
Gillette said the original site had been turned around to have trucks on the east and north sides to separate them from the residential neighborhoods to the west, and car parking on the west side by the offices on the northwest corner. The architecture for the building is in warm neutral colors, she said, pointing out that the west side will be the quiet side of the building.
The required landscaping has been oriented toward the edges of the property to provide buffering for neighbors, primarily on the west side, she said, pointing out that the building will not be visible at all from the north or west.
Commissioner Darrell Lange asked questions about the noise study and landscaping, but said he approved of the application overall, especially the extensive, detailed package that had been submitted.
Commissioner Richard Becher asked about a neighbor’s concern over exhaust from the trucks, and Gillette said turning the building so trucks were on the east and north would minimize that.
Brian McGee, Aldi’s national warehouse coordinator, said the company focuses on efficiency and does not leave trucks idling for long periods. “Typically, we load up a truck and go,” he said. “There are not a lot of trucks sitting there idling a long time. That’s how we operate.”
Commission Vice Chair Michael Newkirk said he agreed that the adjustments made by Aldi should minimize exhaust issues, pointing out that it met standards before the building was turned around. He also complimented the presenters on their package. “This really was easy to look at,” he said.
Commissioner Jackie Larson asked about the ebb and flow of traffic, and McGee said the peak operation is from about 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., although there will be trucks coming and going throughout the evening.
“We do what is called staging, and that allows our trucking company starting at 4 and on to pick up loads and run them to the stores. Most of our deliveries are off peak-traffic hours,” he said.
Commission Chair Barbara Powell asked whether the company was seeking any LEED energy efficiency qualifications, and McGee said they were not, although the company has been energy-conscious for some time.
“Our goal is to sell high-quality products at the best price,” McGee said. “Everything we do in our building is built around energy efficiency, from the refrigeration system to the air conditioning.”
Becher made a motion to approve the application with the condition requiring a berm being stricken, and it carried 5-0.