RPB Council OKs Changes For Senior Housing Complex

The Royal Palm Beach Village Council approved several requests Tuesday, Sept. 19 made by Hunt Midwest Real Estate Development Inc. as part of the company’s plans to build a 114-bed senior housing facility in the community.

The proposed facility will be located on the north side of Okeechobee Blvd. in between the First Baptist Church of Royal Palm Beach and the Porto Sol residential community.

“If you remember, when we entered into an agreement to sell parts of the land that was platted with the Porto Sol property on Okeechobee Blvd. next to the Baptist church, we included a piece of the roadway that accesses the church and a piece of that tract there,” Village Manager Ray Liggins said. “When they were doing the project, they needed just under a third of an acre more to make their project work without variances or waivers, so they added a strip along the entire western edge, which changed the boundary of what we were selling, which changes the agreement that we’re recommending approval.”

Councilman Jeff Hmara made a motion to approve the revised agreement, seconded by Councilwoman Jan Rodusky. It passed unanimously.

Up next, Hunt Midwest asked to purchase a 0.93-acre parcel of land and rezone it from the open space land-use designation to the residential mixed-use land-use designation.

“The site is mostly vacant, with a portion of a vehicle site, which leads to the First Baptist Church,” Planning & Zoning Director Bradford O’Brien explained.

This parcel is currently part of the La Mancha plat. It has been owned by the village since 1989 and was assigned to the village by the Royal Palm Beach Colony Limited Partnership, the community’s original developer.

“The applicant intends to purchase the 0.93-acre parcel and combine it with the 5.45-acre, village-owned parcel directly adjacent to the east,” O’Brien said.

Hmara made a motion to approve the request for purchase, seconded by Vice Mayor Richard Valuntas. It also passed unanimously.

With the purchase of the 0.93 acres, combined with the other 5.45 acres, Hunt Midwest requested to rezone the smaller area from town house residential zoning to residential mixed-use zoning. Parcel size, width, setbacks and pervious area were all reviewed by staff.

“Overall, the proposed rezoning is generally consistent with the village’s comprehensive plan, compatible with adjacent land uses and meets all the concurrency level of standards,” O’Brien said. “Therefore, staff is recommending approval of this application.”

Hmara made a motion in favor of the zoning change, seconded by Rodusky, which passed unanimously.

Finally, the council considered several amendments to the village code requested by Hunt Midwest toward the overall design features of the senior housing facility.

The first proposed change is to the maximum building height, to allow for senior housing facilities of a maximum building height of 32 feet and no more than three stories. In this instance, the code section refers back to the building height limitation of the residential mixed-use district. The maximum residential building height for a mixed-use district is limited to 22 feet.

“This proposed maximum building height is consistent with the village’s multi-family non-residential zoning district, so it’s kind of going in line with those,” O’Brien said. “The applicant contends that the proposed language clarifies the allowable height based on the senior housing facility’s use instead of zoning district.”

The second proposed change is to allow for decreased setbacks for portions of the building that exceed 22 feet or two stories in height. Currently, village code requires an additional 25-foot setback for those portions of the building that exceed 22 feet or two stories.

“When you’re talking about the 32 feet in height, the facility itself is still two stories, but because of different height levels of various areas would be up to 32 feet, correct?” Councilwoman Selena Smith asked. “Or is it a three-story building in certain areas?”

O’Brien confirmed that the facility will be two stories. “The 32 feet would be at the roof beam,” he said.

For rooms, minimum floor areas were presented, as well as a request to allow dual occupancy for up to 10 percent of the approved beds. The 10 percent limitation is made allowable for related couples.

Features planned at the facility include gardening areas, shuffleboard courts, tennis courts, a pavilion or courtyard with seating, a putting green, a croquet court, a pool/jacuzzi area, a pergola with benches, a fitness or walking trail, and a dog park with a fenced area and benches. If a feature such as the tennis court is constructed, it would only allow for one court as part of the request.

Hunt Midwest has planned for the installation of an emergency generator that will be located in a common area of the facility in order to be able to accommodate all residents in a climate-controlled area in the event of a power failure.

“[Gov. Rick Scott] directed the Florida Department of Health and the [Florida] Department of Elder Affairs to issue emergency rules, which they did this week to address the situation that just happened down in Broward County, where the eight people, unfortunately, passed away,” Village Attorney Jennifer Ashton said. “The emergency rules, from my understanding, are going to be followed up with new legislation. A bill has already been proposed for the next legislative session to make these emergency rules law of the land.”

Ashton said the request by Hunt Midwest does not interfere with the recent directions from the governor, but based on the state law, may cause the council to further review that request in the future.

Valuntas made a motion to approve the requested changes, seconded by Rodusky. Approval was unanimous.

Some of the items for the senior housing facility were preliminary readings that still need to go before the Royal Palm Beach Planning & Zoning Commission. They will return to the council for final approval at a later date.