Editor’s note: The following is a letter sent to developer 13th Floor Homes. A copy was sent to the Town-Crier for publication.
You have proposed building 450 homes on the south end of the Village Golf Club in Royal Palm Beach. Your project is called the Village Green. In your open house events, you took pride in saying you are the only developer that valued the input of the surrounding communities that would be affected by your project. Yet the reality is you neither listened to that input during nor after your presentations. There have been petitions in opposition, dual full-page ads in newspapers and many letters voicing the residents’ opposition. The meager impact fees you offered and projected tax revenue generated does not come close to what the effect to the village will be.
Traffic is already intolerable, and the community services are stretched to the limits. The entrance/exit for the development will dump right into the heart of the village on Okeechobee Blvd., compounding the situation further. The development will also severely impact the property values of the nearby homes and quality of life within the entire Village of Royal Palm Beach.
Royal Palm Beach has grown substantially over the past 20 years. But in all its growth, the village has managed to maintain some of the green space areas and save them from development. A prime example is Commons Park. It was built on a defunct, 30-year-old golf course. That golf course was abandoned and became overgrown with weeds. There were several developers salivating to purchase the property for development. However, the local residents overwhelmingly opposed the development of that property. The Royal Palm Beach Village Council, at the time, listened to the residents and purchased the property to maintain the green space. It is now the “jewel” of the village and offers a wide range of recreational and leisure activities for the entire village to enjoy.
Now several years later comes another recreational property that is up for sale, the Village Golf Club. The difference here is it’s a fully functional golf course that the owner, who lives in Ohio, wants to sell to a developer from Broward County. Of course, if the property is rezoned from recreational to residential, the value exponentially increases. The only beneficiaries will be the out-of-town owner and the out-of-town developer. The residents of Royal Palm Beach will be the big losers. Again, the residents have overwhelmingly voiced their opposition to the project. Royal Palm Beach has a comprehensive plan along with a zoning map for a reason. The plan states, “A mix of compatible land uses which meets the needs of the village residents, maintains and enhances the community character, does not adversely impact existing neighborhoods and is developed concurrently with the needed infrastructure and facilities.” The Village Green project does not meet any part of that plan. The past council listened to the residents and found a way to preserve and even enhance existing green space.
I have the confidence in the current council to do the same. In no way do I expect the village to purchase the functioning golf course. However, if the owner wants to sell it because he may be losing or not making enough money, then sell it to a person or group that wants to keep it recreational. Don’t expect the council to change the land use because of the inefficiencies of a business or greed of the out-of-town owner. That is not the business of local government. Local government is here to represent their constituents.
Joe Sicilia, Royal Palm Beach