RPB Zoners OK Senior Housing On Okeechobee Blvd.

The Royal Palm Beach Planning & Zoning Commission approved the site plan and preliminary plat, along with a few variance requests, for the Hunt Midwest senior living facility on Tuesday, Nov. 28.

Hunt Midwest requested site plan, special exception and architectural approval for the proposed 114-bed senior housing facility, to be built on a 6.83-acre parcel of land at 10651 Okeechobee Blvd. The site is adjacent to and north of the Wildcat Way and Okeechobee Blvd. intersection.

The property is situated within the residential mixed-use zoning district, which permits senior housing facilities as a special exception use.

In its architectural approval, Hunt Midwest made its requests for the building design, landscape plan and monument signage. On display were color elevation drawings, a landscape plan, and the different color and material samples for review. The proposed architecture met the architectural treatment requirements of the village’s code.

Commissioner Richard Becher brought up a concern for traffic flow when driving into the proposed senior housing property.

“You notice on Okeechobee, they put a right turning lane going into La Mancha, a deceleration lane,” Becher said. “Looking at your diagram, I see the right turning lane off of Okeechobee, but I’ve seen Okeechobee at times where it can be a mess. Has there been a condition of putting in a deceleration lane prior to that right turn into your development?”

Donaldson Hearing of the land planning firm Cotleur & Hearing, agent for Hunt Midwest, said they have spent time with Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue and other interested agencies to deal with the traffic flow in and out of the proposed facility off Okeechobee. He also responded to concerns that Commissioner Ross Shillingford had regarding the turning lane.

“What we recognize is the peak-hour traffic here is really minimal,” Hearing said. “The way that they will set up the shifts for people coming in and out is off peak hour. So rather than someone coming in at 8 o’clock, they’re going to have their staff come in at 7 o’clock, and they’ll have a staggered shift change depending on the different position, none of them which occur at peak hour.”

Shillingford made a motion to approve the site plan as presented, which passed 4-0.

The plat request from Hunt Midwest totals 13.8 acres recognized as three separate lots. The property designated for the senior facility is being platted to allow for the sale of the 6.83-acre parcel, so Hunt Midwest can develop the facility on the property. Then, there will be a transfer of another lot to Connect Church, adjacent to the future facility. Thirdly, Royal Palm Beach will keep the remaining lot that is part of the entranceway to the village with its welcome sign.

During the public comment for the item, Porto Sol resident Marc Kellner related information he said was verbally given to him by Minto representatives during the time he purchased his home.

“When we purchased our home in 2011, we were told that the property could never be developed; that it was given to the city or the town for civic use, only used for a park or walking trails,” Kellner said. “So, how does this come about? Even on our papers, it describes the property as deeded for civic use.”

Village Attorney Jennifer Ashton explained what civic designation is defined as within the county and the village. She said it was unfortunate that Kellner and his family had been given misinformation about the definition of civic use.

“When Porto Sol was first being built, it was developed under Palm Beach County,” Ashton said. “And, the county, under their land development code, has a designation called a civic pod as civic use. They have a lot of categories of different types of uses that fall within that. Parks are one, but there is also convalescent care, which this is similar to. That’s why village staff and myself, we reviewed the county code, and we feel very comfortable saying that a senior housing facility does meet the civic pod designation.”

Becher thanked Kellner for speaking at the meeting, and he urged him to return with his fellow neighborhood residents to the next meeting of the Royal Palm Beach Village Council, when the council would review the same item.

Royal Palm Beach resident Phyllis Katz, who serves on the Recreation Advisory Board and is president of the Young at Heart Club, commended Hunt Midwest and the village for the progress toward bringing needed senior housing to Royal Palm Beach.

“It has been a long time coming, and we are very pleased that we are getting not only one, but I believe a second facility coming in,” Katz said. “I think the fact that we as a village are moving forward to try to bring more of this kind of identity to our residents shows us how much we care for the community. I think this is very needed for the populace, and after seeing the site plan, I don’t think it’s going to be an intrusive issue.”

Commissioner Jackie Larson made a motion to approve the preliminary plat as presented, which passed 4-0.