Loxahatchee Groves Town Council members held a workshop Tuesday to hear plans for the Groves Town Center’s request for an amendment to allow it to reduce its buffer from 50 feet to 25 feet along B Road and Southern Blvd.
Matthew Barnes, the principal planner for Akerman LLP, representing property owner Delaware North, whose two subsidiary companies own the 90-acre Town Center Planned Unit Development, said he and other representatives were there to present a proposed amendment to the PUD that was approved in 2013 to allow adjustments from what was proposed in the original site plan.
Barnes explained that an Aldi grocery store, Wawa convenience store and a Chase Bank branch in the southwest corner of the site are the first phase of the PUD, which also has plans for a senior care center and office space.
“I think that it’s important to note that this PUD amendment does not seek to increase the maximum allowable floor area,” he said. “We’re not seeking any new uses that weren’t previously contemplated, so it’s all within the same scope of the prior PUD.”
Barnes also noted that the project has already spent about $1 million sharing the cost of improving B Road, although it has not yet begun development.
“While the narrower buffers along B Road and Southern Blvd. are being proposed to be modified, the more substantial buffers along the back, the 300-foot and the 100-foot buffers along the north and the east side are not being proposed to be modified at all,” he said. “They will be for conservation and equestrian trails only.”
Barnes said he and developer representatives had attended a Roadway, Equestrian, Trails & Greenway Advisory Committee meeting in January, where they agreed to prepare and submit a site plan for equestrian trails through those buffer areas along with the Brightwork Real Estate Development application.
Scott Backman, representing Brightwork, which is developing the 5-acre pod containing Aldi, Wawa and Chase Bank, said the entire site will eventually contain more than 100,000 square feet of commercial development along Southern Blvd., office space farther north, and an assisted care facility on the largest pod at the northern part of the PUD.
“All we are here to discuss tonight is the development of the proposed Wawa, Chase Bank and Aldi grocery store,” Backman said, explaining that the pod is immediately to the east of the existing Loxahatchee Groves Commons/Publix shopping center. “It’s about a 5-acre piece of property. In order to develop with the proposed uses, one of the first things we had to do was go back and talk to [the Florida Department of Transportation] about access points.”
Backman explained that the relocation of the turn lanes required reconfiguration of the buildings.
“What we are proposing to do is shift the parcel lane for pod A farther to the east to match up with the driveway location and the access point,” he said, explaining that the access point from Southern Blvd. will run north to Tangerine Blvd.
Backman said the other part of the request was to reduce the size of the buffers along B Road and Southern Blvd. from 50 feet to 25 feet to allow the use of the three buildings in the parcel. The Wawa would sit on about 2 acres at the intersection of B Road and Southern Blvd., with the Chase Bank in the middle on about an acre, and the Aldi on about 2 acres.
Councilwoman Phillis Maniglia asked why it was necessary to reduce the size of the buffer, and Backman said it was partly to improve visibility from Southern Blvd., but also to fit the uses on that particular parcel, and to bring them a little closer to the street.
Backman added that the 25-foot proposed buffer is greater than the 15-foot buffer of Loxahatchee Groves Commons across B Road, which was part of the justification for the amendment.
Vice Mayor Todd McLendon asked if there were any plans for intersection improvements at B Road. “Right now, traffic is backing up on B Road,” McLendon said.
Barnes said the intersection is currently striped, with a left-turn and right-turn lane. “There is room for another turn lane that can easily be turned into a turn lane,” he said, adding that a contract has been let to convert the intersection to have two left-turn lanes.
McLendon said adding a left-turn lane was good, but westbound traffic is also jammed up with people waiting to make right turns.
Rebecca Mulcahy with Pinder Troutman Traffic Consultants, whose firm did the original traffic study for Groves Town Center in 2012 and is now working with Brightwork, said the B Road intersection can easily be converted.
“Right now, one of the lanes is striped out,” Mulcahy said. “The good thing is it’s paved, and it can be easily striped as a right-turn lane.”
She added that FDOT let a contract in January to increase Southern Blvd. to six lanes from Arden to Crestwood Blvd., with construction to begin this month. Plans include improvements to the B Road intersection.
“With that six-laning, they are also going to be adding another left-turn lane from the west at this intersection, so if you’re on Southern Blvd. coming from Lion Country Safari, there will be two left-turn lanes to serve B Road,” she said. “We anticipated that in 2012, and it was written as a condition that those turn lanes be built.”
Mulcahy said FDOT currently plans to stripe out one of the left-turn lanes, but the developer is going to ask FDOT to add both lanes, as well as two left-turn lanes at B Road.
She added that Palm Beach County is in the process of reviewing the intersection plans now. “They are the ones that maintain the signal at that intersection,” Mulcahy said.
Maniglia asked about the possibility of the developer meeting with residents on its plans for the rest of the parcel and was told any other development approval will go through the same process with public hearings.
Maniglia said she would personally like to see a full-service car wash that accommodates equestrian vehicles and trailers, and some nice restaurants.
No formal action was required at the workshop, only discussion of the proposals.