The Palm Beach County Planning Division held an informational meeting Tuesday, Nov. 10 at Seminole Ridge High School regarding GL Homes’ proposed development of Indian Trail Grove west of The Acreage.
GL Homes’ latest plan for the 4,900-acre site calls for 3,543 single-family homes and 400 townhouse units, along with 350,000 square feet of nonresidential uses.
Approximately 50 people attended the presentation, led by county planner Bryan Davis. The focus was on the land use amendments necessary and transportation issues caused by the proposal.
“The idea is to convey information about the process,” Davis said. “We understand a lot of you are coming at this and you have not necessarily looked at the minutiae of how these processes work.”
In Florida, he said, local governments must have a comprehensive plan that details the goals and objectives of a community. They include land use, transportation, housing, infrastructure and conservation, and are then adopted by an ordinance.
Within land use, he said, parcels are designated for “future land use.” Different future land use designations include rural residential, low residential, medium residential, commercial, industrial, institutional, conservation and more. They define what a parcel should be used for.
Zoning specifies, refines and further defines the future land use designations through an amendment process, Davis explained. Amendments must go through a process of public notice, which includes three public hearings.
From there, the amendment is either sent to Tallahassee for a state-level or regional review should the Palm Beach County Commission adopt the ordinance, or the commissioners could deny the ordinance. If the amendment is adopted, and meets state approval, it becomes part of the comprehensive plan, he said.
Indian Trail Grove is northwest of The Acreage. In 1940, it was a pine forest. In the 1950s and 1960s, there were drainage improvements made to land and it was brought into agricultural use as a citrus grove. In the 2000s, the citrus grove operation ended. In more recent years, there has been a transition to new crops.
Before the real estate crash, Indian Trail Grove submitted a proposal in 2006 to build 12,325 dwelling units at 2.5 units per acre, along with 250,000 square feet of nonresidential uses and approximately 50 percent open space. That plan was withdrawn in 2009.
In July 2015, a new plan was submitted that included major changes. It called for 3,943 housing units. The property would remain in the rural tier, designated as a limited urban service area with an exemption from long range transportation planning.
On Monday, Nov. 9, the county was provided with a revised request. It has the same unit count, but specifies 3,543 single-family homes and 400 townhouse units. The nonresidential uses of the land would be primarily commercial retail with a small amount of light industrial and commercial office. Two-thirds of the land will be left as open space in the most recent request, Davis explained.
County Engineer George Webb provided information about how many daily trips are estimated for the area. The current request would bring approximately 47,115 trips a day, including other factors such as public, private, commercial use and more.
Previously, to pay for road work, the county used a concept called “concurrency.” Developers had to wait until others made the improvement, reduce the size of the development, or pay for the needed road improvements.
However, recent changes to state law have lowered the burden on developers by creating a method called “proportionate share.” Developers pay for part of the total improvement, but can then start impacting the road right away, Webb explained. Now, developers have three options: they can wait until others make the improvements, reduce the development or only pay for part of the improvement.
In essence, Webb said, if there is a capacity for 6,000 for a road, then add 2,000 cars, and the road needs to be widened to a 10,000 capacity, there is a 4,000 increase in capacity. Since they’re creating 4,000, and only using 2,000, they’re using 50 percent of the capacity. Therefore, that developer would pay for their 50 percent, even if the road isn’t widened, since they aren’t providing all the money needed, yet traffic will still increase.
For example, Webb said, if four roads need $1 million worth of work, and the proportionate share is only 25 percent, then the county collects $1 million to do $4 million worth of work. One of the four roads can be widened, leaving three roads over capacity.
“Prop share is what is now allowed statewide and here in Palm Beach County. Project after project is coming in not committing to build and widen roads, but to instead write a check as various parts of their projects progress,” Webb said. “That is the processes that we’re having to live with now, of figuring out when these dollars are going to be coming in.”
Widening Northlake Blvd. and parts of Seminole Pratt Whitney Road are priorities for using the current proportionate share money. In 2016, Seminole Pratt Whitney from Orange to Northlake is scheduled to be widened from two to four lanes, with improvements at the Seminole Pratt /Northlake intersection.
On Northlake, from Seminole Pratt to Coconut, the road is scheduled to be widened from two to four lanes. Other improvements are planned for State Road 7.
The next public hearing on the GL Homes proposal is a Planning Commission/Local Planning Agency hearing scheduled for Dec. 11. The Palm Beach County Commission will hold a transmittal hearing on Jan. 20, followed by additional meetings with dates to be determined.
Meanwhile, GL Homes is not the only development proposal in the pipeline. Palm Beach Gardens is going through a similar processes with Avenir to the north, and Iota, an area adjacent to Indian Trail Grove, is projected to request the same density that GL Homes gets. For more information, visit www.pbcgov.com/pzb/indian_trails.
ABOVE: Planner Bryan Davis explains the development process.