County Commission Rejects Iota Carol Land Use Change

Reversing course from earlier preliminary approvals, the Palm Beach County Commission on Wednesday denied the final approval of the 1,288-acre Delray Linton Groves project west of The Acreage.

The land use text amendment would have allowed up to 1,030 residential units on the land, which currently has an agricultural-residential land use set at one unit per 10 acres.
The refusal marks an about-face for the county commission, which has approved several large developments surrounding The Acreage in recent years.

Delray Linton Groves, also known as Iota Carol, received transmittal approval to the state in February and received comments from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and strongly negative remarks from the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council.

County staff had recommended approval, noting that the proposed development included limited commercial uses and could help address water issues in the area.

The site is almost completely surrounded by GL Homes’ 4,872-acre Indian Trails Grove development, which received comprehensive plan approval for up to 3,897 homes in September 2016.

The applicant had offered to make more than 400 acres available to the Indian Trail Improvement District, a check for $1.3 million, as well as $1,000 per unit over and above its required impact fees for ITID to use as it sees fit for road improvements.

The applicant had also offered to improve surrounding roadways, including Orange and Hamlin boulevards, 60th Street and 190th Street, to handle increased traffic. The applicant additionally offered to share the drainage allowance of the former agricultural area with ITID, and to become an activated unit of ITID, agreeing to a condition that it would not annex or incorporate.

Attorney Martin Perry, representing ITID, said that his client still opposed the project but would accept the offers by the applicant if the project was approved.

Ken Tuma with Urban Design Kilday Studios said the 0.8 density was similar to those in surrounding developments, including Westlake, GL Homes and The Acreage, and that the site is within an area that had been designated for higher density in the long-defunct sector plan.

Tuma also pointed out that the proposed development has open space of almost 70 percent, where other areas of the county are 40 percent.

The proposal had several miles of pedestrian pathways and equestrian trails with connectivity, as well as 2 acres of parking for horse trailers to access the trails.

Tuma added that the 400 acres dedicated to ITID for stormwater management constituted 31 percent of the site, where GL Homes’ dedication of 365 acres was 15 percent of its site.

The applicant also offered to dedicate 26 acres for civic use, possibly for a fire station, and $2.49 million to the school district.

Tuma added that the rezoning would provide a livable community compatible with the surrounding communities.

ITID Supervisor Betty Argue said that Acreage residents were weary of marching down to the county commission meetings to oppose development, only to be ignored.

“I’m not here on behalf of ITID, I have Marty Perry to do that,” Argue said. “I have been very vocal against development in the western communities. When Minto was here, we had 5,000 signed petitions pleading to hear us, do not allow more development. Again, we pleaded during GL Homes.”

She chastised the county for approving too many new developments.

“This room is not packed [today], because residents feel it is a waste of time,” she said. “We’re tired of it.”

Argue added that the spillover that will result from the increased traffic will be onto Indian Trail roads, which are privately owned and maintained by the district through assessments on property owners.

Acreage resident Lillian Hall said that when she came to her first packed county commission meeting four years ago, she first saw the diversity of lifestyles in her community.

“The gated communities are fantastic, but if people wanted roosters, there was a place for them, too,” she said, adding that she lost faith that her community could be preserved when she saw the approval of a series of higher-density developments. “I now stand here very jaded.”

Hall also said she has heard many commissioners remark that there aren’t many people at a meeting.

“That’s so disrespectful,” she said. “We are teachers and police officers. We can’t take the time off. Watch your words; they do hurt us out there. Just like you’re working here, we’re working out there.”

Commissioner Steve Abrams made a motion to approve the application, seconded by Commissioner Hal Valeche, but it failed 5-2, with Mayor Paulette Burdick and commissioners Melissa McKinlay, Mary Lou Berger, Dave Kerner and Mack Bernard opposed.