The Loxahatchee Groves Town Council voted Tuesday, Sept. 22 to postpone a decision regarding a request by the owner of the Palms West Plaza to add buildings to his commercial development at Southern Blvd. and D Road until he cleans up the existing property.
Planning consultant Jim Fleischmann said the owner is asking for a site plan amendment for the 7.96-acre parcel, which received original approval in 1979 and a second approval in 1988 for a 57,725-square-foot community shopping center.
“The existing shopping center contains 27,135 square feet, including the post office,” Fleischmann said, adding that the town granted a rezoning in 2012 from Palm Beach County commercial to Loxahatchee Groves commercial low density.
Although the town zoning allows a floor area ratio (FAR) of 0.10, the property was grandfathered into the town with an FAR of 0.166, he said.
“Under the site plan amendment, two new commercial buildings are proposed, 12,000 square feet and 7,940 square feet,” Fleischmann said. “In addition, a 5,400-square-foot expansion of an existing 8,005-square-foot building is proposed.”
The total size of the existing and proposed buildings would be 52,675 square feet.
An emergency access would be given to Tangerine Drive from the shopping center with the condition that the owner grant the town a 30-foot easement on Tangerine, as well as $200,000 to the town for improvements.
Town staff recommended approval of the amendment, and the Loxahatchee Groves Planning & Zoning Committee recommended approval on Aug. 20 in a 4-1 vote.
Councilwoman Phillis Maniglia said she felt the plaza in its present condition is dangerous and asked permission to speak to the owner, Kan Yee.
“I’m actually one of your neighbors for over 30 years. I could walk to your plaza, and have many times. However, I wouldn’t do it at this time,” Maniglia said, adding that there is garbage around the plaza, as well as several dozen rental trucks stored at the plaza.
She also questioned whether the existing buildings would meet code standards.
“Your plaza is the face of Loxahatchee Groves and has been for a long time, so my question is, what are you going to do to your original plaza before you do the new stuff?” she asked, recommending to the council that it give Yee 60 days to clean up the plaza.
Councilwoman Laura Danowski said she was not interested in granting any kind of access to Tangerine Drive because of the precedence it would set. The town charter does not permit commercial development north of Tangerine.
Danowski suggested an alternative access to D Road between the old Loxahatchee Groves Water Control District building and Boonies Restaurant. She added that she was happy that the owner planned to preserve a large tree on the property.
Mayor Lisa El-Ramey said she was concerned that the plan did not appear to include buffers that include a trail along Tangerine Drive. “I agree with Councilwoman Maniglia that the existing buildings should be brought up to some standard,” El-Ramey said, adding that she was aware that a tenant in the plaza runs a business that also utilizes property north of Tangerine.
Councilman Robert Shorr made a motion for a continuance of the application to January, which carried 5-0.