The Loxahatchee Groves Town Council gave final approval last week to an arbitrated settlement for a land use change from low-density residential to low-density commercial for the Day property at the southwest corner of Okeechobee Blvd. and Folsom Road.
The Nov. 18 approval was for a small-scale land use change and rezoning for the 10-acre parcel east of the 10-acre Red Barn property. The zoning changes the land use from rural residential, one unit per 5 acres, to commercial low to accommodate future development to a maximum of 5.3 acres of commercial use.
The changes were the result of litigation between the town and the property owners after the council initially refused to approve commercial development on the land, although town staff had advised that under the comp plan and land use code, the Days were entitled to commercial development there.
Kerry Kilday, representing the applicants, said they would be back for final site plan approval.
“We were given directives at the last hearing, especially as it relates to the traffic situation and solutions,” Kilday said. “We’re already starting down the road, which we believe is going to be a joint effort of Mr. Day, of course, along with the town and the county, because the county has control.”
Vice Mayor Ron Jarriel said he was optimistic that newly elected District 6 Commissioner Melissa McKinlay and Palm Beach County Mayor Shelley Vana would be supportive in getting a traffic light paid for at Okeechobee Blvd. and D Road, which the town had budgeted for originally.
“We need to approach these two people and let them know about development on the corner of Folsom and Okeechobee,” Jarriel said. “We need to stress to them how important it is to get some type of traffic calming device.”
LGLA President Marge Herzog said she travels Folsom Road often and encounters heavy traffic now.
“It is a nightmare,” Herzog said. “Between the churches trying to come south on Crestwood, you cannot see coming out of Folsom to make the turn. So, if we’re adding more traffic that’s going to be heading south, it is going to be a nightmare. Something really has to be done with traffic control there. When I’m heading north, and I’m trying to make a left turn to go west, you have to sit there for a long time.”
As an alternative, she said she takes Crestwood Blvd., which has a traffic light, because she can’t make the left at Folsom Road.
Past traffic studies have shown that the temporary-use traffic light at Royal Palm Beach Elementary School is too close to put a traffic light at Folsom and Okeechobee, but Herzog said that needs to be mitigated. “Maybe it has to be addressed that Folsom be a continuous-use light,” she said.
Geoff Sluggett of Raymond Drive, which opens onto Folsom Road, said he appreciated the comments about traffic calming on Folsom Road.
“This is an issue that really needs to be addressed,” Sluggett said. “Everybody knows the situation with Folsom as a cut-through road. It’s a straight shot. Everybody uses it to avoid Crestwood through Royal Palm Beach.”
He also asked to make sure that the applicant is required to make cross access with the Red Barn property immediately west of the Day property.
Jarriel asked Sluggett about speed humps on Folsom Road.
“We’ve come to the conclusion that we want to make them standard for everybody, 30 mile-an-hour speed humps,” Jarriel said. “I’d like to know how your neighbors feel about that. I don’t want to present speed humps and find out the neighbors don’t want them.”
Sluggett said many of his neighbors had spoken two weeks ago at the preliminary hearing requesting traffic calming of some type on Folsom Road.
“Many of my neighbors were actually going to come tonight, and they basically said I could speak on their behalf,” he said. “The folks along Folsom Road are very interested because this is a very dangerous situation.”
Councilman Jim Rockett made a motion to approve the changes to the Day property, which carried unanimously.