Representatives of Minto West gave a presentation to the Indian Trail Improvement District Board of Supervisors on Monday about their request for a 6,700-home development and more than 1.4 million square feet of non-residential use on the 3,800-acre former Callery-Judge Grove site.
The presentation did not allow public input, although it was attended by about 50 residents.
Minto West representative Donaldson Hearing, with the land planning firm Cotleur & Hearing, gave an overview of the Minto West proposal.
“We spent a lot of time out in this area trying to meet with various stakeholders,” he said. “From a number of the comments that I’ve read online, it sounds like this board really wants to listen to the facts and try to understand the project, to understand what there might be as far as benefits, and do it in an unbiased and open manner.”
Hearing said Minto wishes to work collaboratively to reach good solutions for the long-term future of the western communities.
“We’ve committed to all the groups that we’ve met with. It really is our desire to be transparent,” he said. “We’ve tried to be as open as we can from day one on what the plan is, what our development program is, and we’ll continue to do that with the utmost integrity.”
Hearing said Callery-Judge Grove was once surrounded by wetlands and uplands, but noted that with development of 25,000 lots in The Acreage and larger lots to the south in Loxahatchee Groves, not all the needed infrastructure was created.
He pointed out that the land use for the Minto West property is an agricultural enclave, and under the approvals that currently exist, the property could be developed with 2,996 home sites and 235,000 square feet of non-residential use.
“We propose a different program because we think that there is a better way,” Hearing said. “There are a number of regional issues that exist out in the western communities. Drainage and environmental enhancements are one thing, certainly roads. We think by developing a comprehensive master plan, we can collaborate better with the community and with Indian Trail, creating a more sustainable community in the long run.”
He said that if Minto developed under its current allocation of approximately 3,000 homes and one small shopping center, most of the traffic would be commuting elsewhere for employment and services. “It would basically be a bedroom community,” he said. “We’re looking to provide a little bit more than that.”
Minto proposes more than 1.4 million square feet of non-residential uses that would include many employment opportunities. In addition to a maximum of about 500,000 square feet of shopping centers, community services, general office and services such as auto repair, would be 900,000 square feet of employment centers to provide job opportunities.
“Minto West has an opportunity to have a place to go to work as opposed to having all of that traffic go east for employment,” he said.
This, Hearing said, would redirect some of the traffic and reduce vehicle miles traveled.
The conceptual “town center” in the Minto West master plan would be on both sides of Seminole Pratt Whitney Road. “This is the area that will contain both some non-residential uses, as well as some of our higher-density multifamily housing,” he said.
The town center would be the nucleus of Minto West, a place with shopping, entertainment, recreation and other elements designed to draw people. “Minto will spend a lot of time programming activities that would occur in that space,” Hearing said.
East of the town center would be traditional single-family residential districts broken into neighborhoods. To the west, lower-density residential development is planned.
As part of the plan, Minto would develop the currently unimproved portion of Seminole Pratt Whitney Road.
“That provides the main spine that goes through the community,” Hearing said. “We don’t see bringing buildings right up to the edge of Seminole Pratt. We see creating more of a pastoral, lake-type setting along Seminole Pratt Whitney as you drive by.”
Other arterial roads include 60th Street to the north, which would come all the way into the town center and remain a two-lane road for the most part, designed as a rural parkway. Persimmon Blvd. in the southern portion of the site is planned to come all the way through but also remain two lanes, as well as Orange Grove on the southern end of the property. “We are not proposing to have multiple interconnections on other roadways,” he said.
The development would also have numerous pathways along the roads, with a 14.5-foot multimodal path on one side and an 8-foot path on the other, meandering through open green space, connecting the neighborhoods. “The major roads are not going to be gated and will be open to the entire community,” Hearing said.
Minto West also anticipates creating a 400-acre interconnected lake system within all portions of the development, including the town center, accessible by kayak or water trolley. “To that extent, we are also looking at having the opportunity to raise Seminole Pratt Whitney to go up and over so that water can go underneath.”
Callery Judge also has a drainage allocation of 2 inches per day, adding that Minto West might be able to share the allotment, explaining that engineer Bob Higgins and ITID engineer Jay Foy have been discussing that possibility.
“Callery-Judge was here first, and they ended up getting the 2 inches per day. They retain that right under their permit,” Hearing said. “My understanding is the area to the north can only discharge a quarter of an inch a day. While we can’t solve all of the problems, I think we can make a significant dent.”
In total, Minto West would have about 1,400 acres of open space, including lakes, paths and public and commercial recreation, including a possible Major League Baseball training facility. A 15-mile system of equestrian trails is also planned along a 400-foot buffer around the perimeter of the development.
They are also trying to attract a higher learning institution and to increase the number of secondary schools from the three that exist to five.
Hearing said that the development would generate more than $50 million in impact fees and that Minto West wants to work with the surrounding communities to see that the money is directed back into the community.
“The county has been collecting impact fees for the existing 25,000 lots,” he said. “That money hasn’t been spent out here. It’s going elsewhere, so it’s important that money gets directed to where you want it to go.”
Hearing noted that Minto West would not be built all at once. It is envisioned as a 35-year project. “We do truly want to create a community that’s sustainable, and that increases the sustainability of your community,” he said.
Supervisor Jennifer Hager said she hopes the development remains at 2,996 homes, and asked how Minto West hopes to assist ITID with drainage. Higgins said with 400 acres of lakes, Minto West would not need its full 2 inches for discharge, which would make at least 1 inch available elsewhere.
Supervisor Michelle Damone pointed out that during the Tropical Storm Isaac flooding, Callery-Judge allowed ITID to drain into its area after it had controlled its own flooding issues.
Supervisor Gary Dunkley said he is deeply concerned about overdevelopment of the area. “I used to live in Broward County, Sunshine Ranches,” Dunkley said. “It used to be a country community. I go to Miramar now, and it’s unrecognizable.”
He was also concerned about protecting potable water wells.
Damone said she was sure some residents of The Acreage would use the amenities planned at Minto West, and it is important to continue dialogue with them. “You have the right to develop, whether we like it or not,” Damone said. “I would rather have a mature discussion with you all to see how we can live together.”
The board asked Minto representatives to come back tentatively on Monday, Jan. 27 at 5 p.m., to respond to questions and comments from residents.
Palm Beach County has scheduled a special comp plan amendment round for the Minto West petition. Hearings are set for May or June.