Lox Council OKs Change Allowing PUDs On Southern

The Loxahatchee Groves Town Council gave preliminary approval Tuesday to an ordinance amending the town’s Unified Land Development Code to allow planned unit developments (PUDs) on two large parcels of land along Southern Blvd.

The need for a PUD ordinance arose because a multiple land use category was created for the two parcels, which needed design flexibility in order to implement the town’s planning directives and conditions of approval, according to planning consultant Jim Fleischmann.

The proposed PUD is a special type of floating overlay district that will not appear on the town’s zoning map until the designation is approved by the council. Properties assigned a multiple land use designation can apply for PUD approval. In addition, certain properties with a commercial land use designation located along Southern Blvd. would also be eligible to apply.

Changes to the ULDC require a 4-1 council super-majority for approval.

The ordinance was up for its third preliminary approval after council members recommended several substantive changes in previous reviews.

Fleischmann said a major change was to make it clear that the amendment would only apply to properties along Southern Blvd. Another change clarifies screening and buffers of PUDs from adjacent properties. The width of property fronting Southern Blvd. was also increased from 400 feet to 600 feet, and the minimum depth of the property would be increased to 750 feet.

“This would give the opportunity for property owners behind the frontage to participate in development or decisions of properties fronting Southern Blvd.,” Fleischmann said, adding that the additional depth would encompass extensions of Citrus and Tangerine drives if the council should decide it wants that in the future. “If you multiply 600 feet by 750 feet, the minimum parcel size would be just around 10 acres.”

The amended ordinance also clarifies that native vegetation will be preserved and exotics will be removed.

Fleischmann said the PUD designation will benefit both the town and the property owners in that it will require discussion and resolution of issues earlier in the process.

“Normally the land use is relatively general application of the broad category,” Fleischmann said. “This zoning district is a little bit more specific. The PUD brings in a lot of the elements of the site plan approval into the zoning process.”

Details and issues can be taken care of in the zoning phase rather than pushing them off to the site plan phase, Fleischman said, explaining that the PUD process is a benefit to the town in that officials will have an early chance to address and resolve issues of concern.

“It’s a benefit to the property owner in that the site plan process is very extensive, and by bringing some of the site plan requirements into the PUD process without having to do a lot of the extensive requirements of the site plan process, both parties can sit down and talk about major issues and resolve them in the zoning process,” Fleischmann said. “That, in my mind, is the biggest benefit to both parties.”

The PUD also gives a better opportunity for multiple landowners to get together and plan a land development concept for their properties, Fleischmann said.

“It’s possible under the PUD, for example, for all the property owners east of C [Road] and west of D [Road] from Southern to Collecting Canal [Road] to get together and essentially come up with a master plan of how they would like that entire neighborhood developed,” Fleischmann said.

The master plan could incorporate a minimum of three land use categories, including commercial, institutional and residential, conservational and recreational space. “I think that would be an ideal tool to address some of the neighborhood problems in that area, but it would require the cooperation of all of the property owners to make that happen,” Fleischmann explained.

Another benefit to the town is that it can require conditions of approval to ensure compliance with the comprehensive plan, such as the Rural Vista guidelines or the amount of pervious area.

The PUD process also requires a market feasibility study to determine that there is a market for the proposed use, as well as details of preserved vegetation and buffers from adjacent property.

Vice Mayor Jim Rockett pointed out that the PUD is limited to what is already commercial or already has a multiple land use designation.

“If anybody else wants to get on the bandwagon, they have to start with the process of the MLU and/or commercial designation to get in line to use the PUD,” Rockett said. “We’re not adding any more development or any more commercialization to that area than we already have.”

Councilman Tom Goltzené made a motion to approve the preliminary reading of the ordinance, which carried 5-0.

In other business:

• The council finalized its tax rate for the new fiscal year at 1.2 mills. That rate equates to $1.20 per $1,000 of assessed value after exemptions. The rate will generate an estimated revenue of $1,552,171. Vice Mayor Jim Rockett made a motion to approve the rate, which carried 5-0.

Accompanying that vote was a vote to approve the 2012-13 budget of $1,426,748, which is down from the 2011-12 budget of $2,147,763.

The budget includes a $1.5 million capital improvement plan through fiscal year 2014 for development of town hall alternatives with $500,000 budgeted for 2012-13 — $150,000 for planning and design, and $350,000 for land acquisition.

Rockett pointed out that he did not really see $500,000 being spent in 2012-13 on the town hall project. During public comment, former Councilman Dennis Lipp, a member of the town’s Planning & Zoning Committee, agreed with Rockett, adding that with many municipalities facing large debts, the Town of Loxahatchee Groves had set out on a stable course of contractual town management and renting office space.

Rocket made the motion to approve the budget, which carried 5-0.

• The council also renewed its contract with Tew & Taylor for code enforcement services, and renewed an independent contractor agreement with Frank Schiola for public works consulting services. The council also renewed an agreement with the Loxahatchee Groves Water Control District for financing of construction, reconstruction and maintenance of public roads within the town. Council members also asked staff to prepare requests for proposals for contractors for grading and hedging that the district might not be able to perform due to time or equipment restrictions.