The Royal Palm Beach Village Council approved the preliminary reading of a comprehensive plan amendment and special exception last week to add institutional uses as well as a restaurant with a drive-through to the Cypress Key mixed-use development on Southern Blvd.
The development, whose residential component is under construction now, also has residential, retail and office uses. It is the only parcel with mixed-use development (MXD) zoning in the village.
At the May 18 meeting, Planning & Zoning Director Bradford O’Brien explained that the applicant is requesting an amendment to the comp plan that would add institutional uses to the office category and be included in the floor area ratio (FAR) requirement, which is the ratio of the building square footage to the total square footage of the property. It also proposes to slightly increase the maximum FAR for office/institutional, but reduce the retail/service FAR, thereby retaining the total square footage of the development.
“If the applicant’s zoning text amendment is approved, the institutional uses would include a financial institution with a drive-through, public and private academic institutions, child daycare centers and a senior housing facility,” he said, explaining that the applicant would like to have more of the office/institutional uses in the development.
Village Manager Ray Liggins said the MXD zoning was approved more than 10 years ago, and the approved square footage for non-residential uses is 125,000 square feet, with 67,000 square feet of retail/service and 67,000 square feet of office, which he said is a pretty intense use.
“With some of the restrictions on the property, it was not marketable,” Liggins said. “We always had a problem, I think, with that intensity, and with meeting with different developers over the time, we’ve encouraged them to change it to something less intense. The changes here are considerably less intense. By adding institutional use, it’s much less intense than an office use, and taking the retail down from being half the site to less than a quarter of the site is less intense. We think it fits better.”
O’Brien noted that the Planning & Zoning Commission recommended approval in a 5-0 vote on April 25, and village staff also recommended approval.
Vice Mayor Richard Valuntas, whose home is near the development, said consideration of the MXD has been going on nearly 15 years, with the idea of promoting pedestrian traffic and reducing vehicular traffic.
“I appreciate the developer and folks coming forward with the plan, particularly reducing the retail aspect of it. Honestly, I think this is a step in the right direction,” he said. “The only thing that I think is an issue is that this entire mixed use was created for a pedestrian-oriented community, and on this comprehensive plan amendment, I don’t see anything that’s going to have a drive-through as promoting pedestrian orientation. As a matter of fact, it’s going to be the opposite. It’s going to have people actually driving their cars into here to go through drive-throughs instead of people in the community and surrounding areas just walking to it.”
Liggins said that a financial institution with a drive-through is already allowed, but the applicant wanted to add a restaurant with a drive-through, which would be considered during the zoning text ordinance.
Ken Tuma with Urban Design Kilday Studios, representing the applicant, said the total square footage is not changing, but retail will go down and the other components will go up.
Councilman Jeff Hmara made a motion to approve transmittal of the ordinance, which carried 5-0.
During discussion of the zoning amendment, Valuntas said he did not want to take away a financial institution with a drive-through, which had already been approved, but did not favor adding a restaurant with drive-through that could be open 24 hours that close to a residential neighborhood, reiterating that it went against the concept of walkability.
Hmara made a motion to approve the ordinance, which carried 4-1 with Valuntas opposed.
The second and final reading of both ordinances will be in about 60 days when the comp plan ordinance is returned from its review in Tallahassee.