On Oct. 29, the Board of County Commissioners (BCC) convenes to decide whether to approve the Minto West proposed expansion and the future of the communities directly impacted. It is the BCC’s last opportunity to do the right thing by voting “no” for all the right reasons:
• Though Minto reduced the number of homes to 4,546, it has increased non-residential use to a staggering 2.1 million square feet. The newest proposal represents a 52 percent increase in residential and nearly a 1,000 percent increase in non-residential.
• Minto West, as proposed, is “leapfrog” development because it requires the extension of public facilities, services and roads on existing peripheral areas, extensions neither present nor provided for in existing plans of local, county and state governing bodies. Therefore, it is neither New Urbanism nor Smart Growth; it is urban sprawl in a rural area.
• Minto West will flood the area with traffic on roads never designed to handle such a dramatic increase. Even Minto’s land planner, Don Hearing, has publicly admitted their traffic is “the elephant in the room.”
• In roads alone, currently $30 to $40 million is needed to repair existing county roads, but the BCC has allocated only $3 million next year for road repairs. The estimated tax dollars necessary for improvements related to Minto West for county and state roads exceed $177 million; money the county does not have. Who will shoulder the fiscal deficits? Property owners, of course, who will pay in the form of property tax and gas tax hikes.
• In addition to increased county taxes, residents served by ITID will be faced with higher property taxes to pay for Minto’s traffic on our privately owned and maintained roads.
• Schools will be negatively impacted by increased student population, especially Golden Grove Elementary School, Western Pines Middle School and Seminole Ridge High School, as it is projected they will exceed 100 percent utilization by 2017. The Palm Beach County School District has no funds to address this impact, and Minto continues to refuse to provide financial assistance.
• Minto West, via major, multi-lane thoroughfares and rural parkways, will divide The Acreage, compromising the unity and neighborhood feel and endangering the health, safety and well-being of all.
• Minto West is located on the site of a former orange grove. Minto will be disturbing soil that, for decades, has been subjected to hazardous chemicals. Certainly environmental studies are justified and warranted before that soil is disturbed to build residential, non-residential and a system of lakes.
• The Minto West project will likely worsen flooding due to the construction of impervious roads, structures and parking areas resulting in less surface area where water can percolate. Areas within the property are in (FEMA proposed) flood zones. Therefore, any of their lakes, kept high for aesthetic purposes, and canals will fill up faster, increasing their need for drainage capacity for their floodwaters. If the Acreage floods again, it is likely Minto will be also flooded and unable to relieve Acreage floodwaters.
• Minto West is noncompliant and inconsistent with Florida Statutes, the Palm Beach County Comprehensive Land Use Plan, and regional and state needs, and is incompatible with surrounding areas and communities, equestrian activities, livestock, and bona fide and hobby agricultural operations. Minto West will forever alter the rural ambiance and quality of life in The Acreage, Loxahatchee and Loxahatchee Groves.
• The county’s planning staff has confirmed there are sufficient un-built, approved residential units and non-residential square footage to meet anticipated population growth beyond the year 2035.
These reasons are not fanatical diatribes of a vocal minority. The plethora of documentation collected thus far speaks for itself and clearly indicates Minto’s proposed expansion will result in far more significant negative impacts than any public benefit. West Palm Beach City Commission President Sylvia Moffett, at a recent work session meeting, succinctly stated to Minto, “It’s a beautiful plan you have. I just think it’s too big.” May the BCC view the proposed expansion similarly, take into consideration the negative impacts and vote accordingly on Oct. 29. In the interim, residents should not give up. Instead, rise up and speak out! Visit www.alertsofpbc.com to see how you can help fight overdevelopment.
Jean Edwards, The Acreage