The Indian Trail Improvement District Board of Supervisors approved a final agreement for GL Homes’ donation of 640 acres of land to be used for water storage last week.
GL Homes offered the land to ITID as one of the conditions for Palm Beach County’s approval of its development of approximately 4,872 acres northwest of The Acreage. GL was required to place a deed conveying the property to ITID by April 1, placing the property in escrow until all terms are met by both parties.
The agreement was approved at ITID’s rescheduled meeting on Thursday, March 29.
The Palm Beach County Commission gave approval for the privately initiated comprehensive plan amendment on Sept. 22, 2016 to GL Homes’ Indian Trails Grove application for a change in density from 0.1 to 0.8 dwelling units per acre on the property.
The approval allows for the development of approximately 3,592 acres of the property, leaving approximately 1,279 acres retained as agricultural use. This would allow up to 3,897 homes and 350,000 square feet of commercial use on the land.
ITID Attorney Frank Palin said district staff had been meeting with GL Homes over the past month on the terms of the agreement.
“We’ve come to an agreement, and we understand the needs of both parties,” Palin said. “The terms that place an obligation on the district are as objective as possible, so that when the time comes, and the conditions have been satisfied, we won’t have an extended discussion at that point. We’ll be able to demonstrate objectively that the terms of the escrow have been satisfied, and we should be closing at that point.”
Palin explained that GL Homes had received comp plan approval but put zoning approval on hold while it seeks an alternative to reduce the density on its property near The Acreage and transfer some of its development rights to land it owns west of Boynton Beach.
“It has been estimated by GL that they can accomplish that within the next four years,” he said. “This condition will expire in four years unless they abandon all development rights, which would include the commitment to provide the 640 acres.”
He added that abandonment of the development rights by GL Homes is unlikely.
There is no time limit on ITID acquiring construction financing for a water control project on the 640 acres, and while the property is in escrow, GL Homes will assist the district with projects such as soil testing and obtaining permits necessary for a water storage project.
To utilize the property, Indian Trail would need to obtain development financing for a construction project.
“That project is defined, at a minimum, as permits for at least 2,000 acre feet of storage on this property,” Palin said, explaining that more storage could be possible if ITID commits to a more intensive development of the property, but 2,000 acre feet is the standard that would be used to define whether Indian Trail has secured construction financing.
“I just want to say that from counsel’s perspective, we believe that this is incredible, and it satisfies the requirements of Palm Beach County and results, hopefully, in a significant asset being contributed to Indian Trail,” he said.
ITID President Betty Argue thanked GL Homes representatives Larry Portnoy and Kevin Ratterree, who attended the meeting.
“The signing of this tonight kind of put you in a jam because we had to comply by April 1, but we all worked together and made it happen,” she said.
Supervisor Gary Dunkley said the 640 acres will go a long way in alleviating drainage issues in The Acreage.
“Our situation is getting desperate,” Dunkley said. “Taking the 640 acres was a nice gesture. I hope that we, at this stage, don’t drop the baton.”
Supervisor Carol Jacobs made a motion to approve the agreement, which carried 5-0.
Palin said the value of the land is about $24 million.
“That’s a value that the taxpayers and the district will not have to bear,” he said.