Representatives from GL Homes/Indian Trail Groves and Iota Carol/Delray Linton Groves proposed to pay impact fees to the Indian Trail Improvement District in a presentation to the ITID Board of Supervisors on Jan. 11.
The amount would be based on the number of residential units constructed, and done as an alternative to the developers going to Palm Beach County to resolve issues.
After a 90-minute-long discussion, the board postponed a decision until Tuesday, Jan. 24.
Attorney Marty Perry, representing ITID, said that it was urgent that the board submit proposed conditions to the county before the GL Homes/Indian Trail Groves hearings in February. The application goes before the Palm Beach County Zoning Commission on Feb. 2 and the Palm Beach County Commission on Feb. 23.
Perry said the recent deluge of separately filed development applications in the western communities has complicated discussions.
“The reality is that all of this should have been taken in at the same time because the ultimate impact is we’re all going to struggle road-wise throughout this thing,” he said. “We’re here tonight because both of these developers have proposed ways to deal with their impacts, and your staff has addressed those things.”
Perry said it was important that the board propose conditions to the county commission if it has any.
“You’re going to have to deal with that and come up with some kind of an idea because… my understanding is that the county staff report is already in [and] GL is coming up with hearings at the beginning of February,” he said. “You need to come up with some recommendations for the county. They’ve been asking for them.”
GL Homes/Indian Trails Groves proposes about 3,900 residential units with 350,000 square feet of non-residential use, and Iota Carol/Delray Linton Groves has another 1,030 dwelling units and 225,000 square feet of non-residential use.
“You need to give the county some idea of what you want consider[ed], and that doesn’t mean the county is going to consider everything that you recommend, but we need to give them something,” Perry said.
Palm Beach County Engineer George Webb reiterated Perry’s comment that the county needs to hear from ITID on the conditions it wants.
“If you don’t have any conditions, that’s OK, too,” Webb said. “Once the zoning conditions start being approved, I think you lose leverage as far as dealing with these developers. That’s your determination. We are anxious to see what comes out under discussions and what you want the county to consider.”
Larry Portnoy with GL Homes, owner of about 5,000 acres west of 180th Avenue North, said his company has developed a proposal to dedicate $1,500 per unit built to the district as an alternative to numerous conditions that ITID staff has proposed.
“The reason we are before you tonight, and we have put forth a written proposal, is that we would love nothing more than what we are willing to accept as a development order proposition instead of us being potentially combative and both of us trying to work with the county and allowing the county to be judge and jury.”
Portnoy said that since they started their approval process, they have wanted to blend in and be part of the surrounding community.
“We want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem, and we’re hoping with our proposal that the board will see that it is fair and something that we can move forward with,” he said.
Portnoy said GL Homes has worked for a year with ITID staff to find a resolution to three items it has proposed as mitigation for its development — the 640-acre area for drainage offered by the developer, GL Homes becoming an active unit of ITID and the commitment to adequately address its impact on roads.
“For purposes of this discussion, I’m just going to focus on the roads,” he said, explaining that after several months of discussion with staff, they had come back with a proposal that had received no response from the district.
“The one thing we had always heard was that the roads would prematurely fail because of the increased amount of traffic… so our proposal to the staff was to add an inch and a half of asphalt at a predetermined time, based upon the number of building permits and the impact that our community would be creating,” he said.
Portnoy said that discussion never reached the board. “Things didn’t get discussed with the board, time went by and we really didn’t get any answers,” he said.
Meanwhile, GL Homes was concerned by the next proposal that got to them.
“Several months later, your staff came back with recommendations,” Portnoy said. “I don’t think it was ever anything that was discussed as a board. It was discussed individually, but never as a board, and we were somewhat blown away by what we had seen. What came back to us was roughly $12 million in improvements that your staff thought we should be obligated to pay for. As taken back as we were, we went through the numbers to get a better feel for how the numbers could be so high. We were surprised to see that roughly $1.7 million of the $12 million was for a bridge across the M Canal to connect 180th Avenue to 60th Street. That was the first we had heard of anything along those lines.”
Portnoy noted that GL Homes has an approved traffic report by the county that doesn’t put any trips on that link.
“We’re only obligated to build a bridge just west of that across the M Canal in order to connect 60th Street, because 60th we are looking to be our major east/west road in and out of our community,” he said.
He said another roughly $4 million was for traffic calming. He noted that he had attended several ITID meetings where ITID President Jennifer Hager had commented about trying to get a horse trailer around a traffic circle, and sat through a workshop with Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue and the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office about response times.
“I never heard this board once give direction as to what it is you’re looking for in traffic calming, and to come back at $4 million to think we’re going to accept the responsibility for that, I thought once again… this is not GL impact-related that we should be considering,” Portnoy said.
As an alternative to further discussion, he said the developer could add a $1,500 traffic impact fee for each home built, which would generate roughly $5.2 million to offset the impact on ITID roads.
He added that he had read several other ITID staff reports that tacked additional money onto the anticipated impact for the new commercial centers. He explained that the commercial centers are intended for local residents, and would not generate significant impact on exterior roads.
“It’s not a major attractor, like Minto building millions of square feet that people are going to drive for miles,” he said. “It’s to satisfy the needs of our community so they don’t have to traverse the roads.”
He said GL Homes has a proportional share agreement with the county for about $42 million based on traffic impact.
Portnoy added that GL Homes had an issue paying proportional share for 180th Avenue North, since traffic standards showed that the development would have no impact, because it plans to create a new four-lane road, 190th Avenue North, which will be the development’s main north/south road.
In addition to a $1,500 impact fee per unit, he reminded supervisors that GL Homes is willing to become an active unit in the district to help pay other costs. He said that Iota Carol is also willing to pay the $1,500 impact fee, which would generate another $1,545,000.
“In essence, you’re going to get $7.5 million, assuming all these units are built,” he said.
He asked for a resolution of $1,500 per home to be paid when any portion of its property is platted.
“We think it is a more than fair proposal, and we’d rather work together than each of us going to the county and technically getting involved as to what our prop share would have otherwise been,” he said.
The board decided to recess the meeting to Tuesday, Jan. 24 at 6:30 p.m. to further discuss GL Homes’ proposal.