RPB Zoners OK Changes At PortoSol

The Royal Palm Beach Planning & Zoning Commission recommended approval Tuesday of a request by the developers of the PortoSol community to increase the amount of impervious space allowed on some of its lots in order to increase marketability.

The request affected more than 200 of the 499 lots in the planned unit development on the north side of Okeechobee Blvd. behind the Super Target store.

“They’re trying to increase the allowable amount of building coverage and the maximum impervious area on smaller lots,” Development Review Coordinator Kevin Erwin said. “All the other lots that are not the small to medium lots, which would include the zero-lot lines and the estate homes, would remain unchanged with 40 percent maximum building coverage.”

Erwin noted that the application would still be in compliance with the South Florida Water Management District permit and with village code.

“Since this is a PUD, they can vary the site development standards,” he said.

Agent Donaldson Hearing said the request would provide greater flexibility for the housing market and reflect the developer’s efforts to cluster homes in order to retain more green space. “As a result of that, we have a vast open space,” Hearing said, explaining that developer Minto had exchanged hundreds of acres of high-quality natural area to the north for the low environmental quality land on the 100 acres where Portosol is being developed.

“What we are asking you to do today is modify the property development regulations for the smaller- to medium-sized lots, which will enable us to meet our market demands,” he said. “PortoSol has turned out to be one of the finest communities here in Royal Palm Beach. We are actively selling homes at a very good pace.”

Most of the affected lots have 55-foot frontage, and the change would not affect the larger or zero-lot-line properties. The request would take the affected lots from 50 percent to 65 percent allowable impervious area.

“We are still way below the requirements of a [residential medium unit] district, which suggest that there can be a minimum of 50 percent green area,” Hearing said. “We’re close to about 60 percent, and that green area is not including the recreation areas like tennis courts and recreation buildings and sidewalks.”

Hearing added that the request would enable the developer to locate some of the larger models on smaller lots.

“If they want a home on a 55-foot lot, we will be able to deliver that and meet a large cross section of buyers’ needs, as well as pricing diversity needs as well,” he said.

Commissioner Joseph Boyle asked whether the request would increase the frontage on the lot, and Hearing said it would not, explaining that the increased size would be to the back, and allow space for a swimming pool or patio if the resident so desired.

Commissioner Richard Becher asked if the increase in impervious area would add to storm water runoff. “Are we going to have problems with the rain with all the items we are building here?” he asked.

Hearing said the original water management permit anticipated that all the lots would be 65 percent impervious.

“We will actually be below the water management assumption,” he said, explaining that most of the lots are not being built out to 65 percent.

Erwin added that the village also made an assumption of 65 percent impervious area so it would comply with SFWMD water retention requirements.

Commission Chair Barbara Powell asked whether the change would comply with the stormwater utility ordinance the village approved recently.

“What our stormwater utility is designed to do is start imposing those fees so that we can compensate for some of those costs that are coming back to the village,” Powell said. “Those costs, as Commissioner Becher alluded to, include water quality criteria, mitigation for water quality, stormwater runoff. Those are expensive and are only going to increase.”

Bob Higgins with Higgins Engineering, representing PortoSol, said the request would meet stormwater criteria.

Becher made a motion to approve the request as presented, and it carried 4-0.