From now until the election, the Town-Crier will ask questions each week to the six people seeking three seats on the Indian Trail Improvement District Board of Supervisors. This week’s question: What are your thoughts on development in areas adjacent to The Acreage? What should ITID do regarding these planned development projects?
ITID SEAT 3
Ralph Bair — As a resident of The Acreage for the past 35 years, I have a proven record of opposing large developments that would detrimentally impact our community.
As an original member of the Royal Ascot Estates Landowners Association, a community within The Acreage, from 1982-86, we worked to stop Seminole Pratt Whitney Road from becoming University Drive. A road that began in Broward County would have then traveled north through The Acreage and would have ended in Martin County. This is a good example of opposing poor development for our area.
With the recent proposed developments, a master plan for a regional road network will need to be put in place to mitigate the traffic impact on our Acreage roads. The road network must include the completion of State Road 7, allowing traffic to travel on the outside border of The Acreage rather than through the heart of it.
Indian Trail’s professional team of consultants is currently working with Palm Beach County and neighboring communities in order to plan ahead to prevent traffic impacts these developments may cause. This includes developing a level of service allowed on our roads, an unbiased traffic study and a traffic calming plan in order to mitigate the impacts and to be eligible for impact fees.
I believe a regional approach to the developments would best serve the residents of The Acreage and the western communities.
Alan Ballweg — I believe The Acreage is unique and special, and I will fight to preserve it. If I am driving home from a congested area, when I cross into The Acreage, I feel like I can breathe again and can enjoy the sounds of birds, crickets and frogs, and see stars at night.
I am strongly opposed to Minto West, and am one of the early founders of the “No To Minto” movement. It is absurd to think that we need 2.1 million square feet of commercial (almost the size of Sawgrass Mills mall, the seventh-largest mall in the United States). We do not want or need a city in the country. Minto West is totally out of character with our rural, agricultural and equestrian way of life, and will bring massive traffic, noise, congestion and crime, as well as increased taxes. It will start a “domino effect” of enabling other nearby developments, such as Avenir, GL Homes, Iota Carol, and others to obtain greater density, and turn us into an overdeveloped wasteland like Broward County.
This is probably the most important battle Indian Trail has ever faced, and if we lose it, we lose our quality of life. It will require a concerted effort using legal and political influence, as well as direct discussions with the county commissioners, planning staff and engineers. I am in favor of aggressive litigation to protect our roads and infrastructure from being used as a doormat by developers and the county. Read more about my positions at www.winwithalan.com.
ITID SEAT 5
Betty Argue — Developers should be held to their approved residential and commercial in the western communities. For the county to approve more, means an undue burden on the taxpayers of the Indian Trail Improvement District, as well as surrounding municipalities.
The burden to Indian Trail is further exacerbated by the approach of the county and Minto asserting the right to use our privately owned, built and maintained roads and parks without involving Indian Trail. Indian Trail has already advised the county and Minto that we will not allow them to use our roads. We need to stay the course at the advice of the attorneys and consultants hired with respect to Minto’s development. If necessary, Indian Trail should pursue litigation to protect our easements, otherwise, other developers, such as GL Homes and Iota Carol, will have the same expectations. While the expense of litigation is not wanted, the expense of losing easements, and providing, building and maintaining roads in perpetuity used by outside developments, is also not wanted.
Indian Trail has invested in traffic studies, including traffic calming measures to deal with the traffic we already have. The suggestions should be reviewed and implemented where appropriate.
County staff has a misunderstanding that The Acreage is a problem that needs to be solved, and mistakenly believes increasing the homes, commercial, industrial and adding a college and a hotel will solve the problem. What they fail to see is that it will create more problems and expense to the taxpayers that is neither warranted nor wanted.
Carol Jacobs — Most people realize that when you move to an area near farm land, that land could eventually be sold off to developers. This has been happening for years all over the United States. The owners of the properties surrounding ITID have a right to go to the county to ask for approval to build on their land, just like when I bought my property to build a house in The Acreage.
I would love The Acreage to stay less crowded then it is going to be once development starts. However, that is not the ITID’s decision to make, it is totally the county commission’s decision, and all this protesting going on out here — the rumors to change the makeup of the ITID board, that the “No to Minto” group will protect everyone and that the current ITID board is not protecting everyone — is complete hogwash. If you believe that these new candidates from the “No to Minto” group can stop development, then I have some swamp land to sell you at a really good price.
ITID is a special district. The only thing we can do in reference to the development around us is exactly what we have been doing — the hiring of consultants to see what the impacts will be to our area in reference to roads, drainage and parks. I do not believe in suing to stop development, like my opponent thinks is the answer, because that would be very expensive and a losing battle, and not a battle the district should take on. I do believe the district supervisors need to protect the works of the district for their constituents in getting our fair share of the development’s impact fees to develop our roads and drainage to handle the increased impacts to our community.
ITID SEAT 1
Mike Erickson — I have long been a proponent of looking at development in a comprehensive manner. The challenge is that the county has not taken a comprehensive approach to this issue since the defeat of the sector plan. Development is what got me active in the community eight years ago when there was a proposal to commercialize a 2.5 mile stretch of Northlake. I worked very hard getting the county to study this corridor and come up with a comprehensive plan for the area. The result of the study was to protect 120 acres and only allow the further development of one 30-acre piece in The Acreage. We did this by working together.
One of the biggest issues facing ITID is the consequences of development on the transportation system. The county either needs to designate a transportation backlog district so TIF funding using future property value increases can fund a proper system, or these developers need to step up and fund the system through bonds that their own residents pay for over time. Either way, the residents of The Acreage cannot be forced to fund these improvements.
ITID must work with the county to develop a long-range plan that first and foremost protects the lifestyle and neighborhood feel of The Acreage while finding a way to solve the current transportation problems and future transportation challenges. All the large vacant properties are in some way planning or proposing developments that will change The Acreage forever. ITID must work closely with the county to influence decisions for the good of this community. ITID has limited powers to deal with this issue and limited legal rights to stop these proposals. We must get to the table and get the county to work with ITID in coming up with a comprehensive solution that protects our lifestyle.
Jennifer Hager — There are numerous proposals for substantial development in our immediate and surrounding areas. The primary threat is Minto West. With this proposed increase in density and intensity, the current proposal is inconsistent with that of the surrounding areas and it lacks any consideration of its rural character. Simply put, it does not fit here. I am personally opposed to massive overdevelopment that will drastically impact our community. My stance is based solely on principle; otherwise, dangerous precedents will be set upon approval, and other developers will follow suit with outrageous increase applications to the county, demanding approval.
Development will bring increased traffic, noise, congestion, speeders, etc., and will significantly impact roads and parks currently within ITID’s taxing district, which is maintained with ITID resident tax dollars. No amount of impact fees a developer may be required to pay will correct the damage overdevelopment will cause. ITID residents will pay for any future improvements, damages and maintenance in the form of increased assessments from both ITID and the county. Additional infrastructure requirements (roads and drainage) and services (police, fire-rescue, schools, waste management, etc.) will also be configured in any future assessment rate.
Without a doubt, our area will be affected by development — how much is yet to be determined. ITID has a fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers and their vested interests, as well as their rights as landowners, to ensure that those rights are protected. ITID should work toward doing just that. The focus needs to be on the people.