Support is gaining in The Acreage for a proposal by GL Homes to trade development rights it has within The Acreage to build more on land it owns in the Agricultural Preserve west of Boynton Beach.
In May, GL Homes representatives made a presentation to the Indian Trail Improvement District Board of Supervisors, who agreed to send a letter in support of the proposal to the Palm Beach County Commission.
Recently, Tim Sayre, president of the Acreage Landowners’ Association, developed a web site (www.protectindiantrailsgrove.com) and Facebook page (www.facebook.com/ProtectIndianTrailsGrove) to rally support for the controversial proposal, which Sayre said he was aware of before the presentation to ITID.
“The first time I heard about it, it was like, ‘This is good news,’” he recalled. “We knew about it before they announced it to the general public. We knew a little ways ahead that they were going to do something, probably three to four weeks prior myself. A few other people knew about it, but we were letting them break the news on it, because it is their property and their proposal.”
The ALA sent a letter dated May 25 to the county commission in support of the proposal, which is published on its web page at www.acreagelandowners.com. It reads, in part:
“On May 23, GL Homes presented their proposal to transfer unit rights from their Indian Trails Grove property to their land within the Agricultural Reserve area of Palm Beach County; utilizing a portion of the Indian Trails Grove property as required preservation for their proposed developments. This proposal: (1) does not increase the number of units already authorized by the county’s Comprehensive Plan; (2) actually results in significantly more land being set aside for preservation; (3) directs growth to an area of the county where infrastructure and planned developments already exist; and (4) provides for a large contiguous area for farming operations to continue.”
The letter informed the county commission of the ALA’s unanimous vote in favor of the idea.
“We believe this proposal is in the best interest of the county for the reasons enumerated above,” the letter continued. “While we have been working with the representatives of GL Homes for years on their development plans for this area, the ALA board firmly believes their proposal identifies and alleviates many of the concerns that the ALA had. We applaud their plan.”
Sayre believes that the proposed land use swap will benefit the entire county. “The ag land was never designated to be only in the south,” he said, explaining that between $20 million and $40 million of the agricultural land bond money was spent above Indiantown Road in the Jupiter area.
The proposal will guarantee that about 3,800 acres will remain in agricultural production on GL Homes’ Acreage-area property, plus ITID will get 640 acres toward water catchment and another 42 acres for Samuel Friedland Park, he said.
Alderman Farms President Jim Alderman is featured in a video on the www.protectindiantrailsgrove.com web page extolling the desirability of farmland in the northwest portion of The Acreage.
Sayre added that the GL Homes property in the southwest Agricultural Preserve has existing infrastructure for future development, whereas the infrastructure would have to be developed in The Acreage.
“They have major roads there already, and it’s city water,” he said. “They have city sewer; they have hospitals down in that area. They have schools. Even the commissioners have admitted that the ag area was designed to have development inside of it. We don’t have the roads, we don’t have the water and we don’t have the sewer out by us.”
He explained that the Ag Reserve is about a 22,000-acre area, but the county bought only about 2,600 acres, with conditions on property owners that they must dedicate a certain percentage of their property in order to receive development rights.
“There’s over 7,000 acres that are already reserved out toward agriculture,” Sayre said. “That’s because of their 60-40 rule where you have to put 60 acres in for every 40 acres that you build on, so 5,000 or 6,000 acres is already donated by builders, and a majority of that is by GL Homes. All they’re looking to do is to use 1,250 acres down there and take 5,000 acres out, which is up by us, and they are willing to sign whatever caveats there need to be so it can never be built on.”
He noted that the Acreage-area property is completely in row crop production currently.
“They lease it out for agriculture,” Sayre said. “They paid for the land, so they lease it out so they can recoup some of the money.”
At ITID’s May meeting, GL Homes Vice President Kevin Ratterree explained that the proposal would reduce the scope of GL Homes’ development in The Acreage and instead allow denser development on its Ag Reserve property.
The company has its land use in place for the Acreage-area property and was in the process of rezoning the land, but changed its plans after the county commission in April rejected land use and zoning changes for the proposed 1,288-acre Iota Carol property, which is almost completely surrounded by the GL Homes land. Iota Carol had planned to build 1,030 homes.
GL Homes now plans to ask the county for permission to transfer its development rights in The Acreage to its Ag Reserve land. The proposal is due to be submitted sometime this month and will go before the Palm Beach County Planning Commission in December.