The Loxahatchee Groves Town Council heard a status report Tuesday, Dec. 15 on the Groves Town Center project at the northwest corner of Southern Blvd. and B Road. The update had been requested by council members.
Planning Consultant Jim Fleischmann said a site at the southwest corner of the 90-acre larger site has been approved for a Wawa gas station and convenience store, an Aldi grocery store and a Chase bank.
“Since the approval, Chase Bank has backed out, and at this point, they don’t have a replacement tenant for that parcel,” Fleischmann said. “Aldi is currently under construction and is nearing its request for a certificate of occupancy.”
Wawa has an approved infrastructure permit but has not yet submitted a building permit application, he said.
No uses have been approved yet for the parcel to the east of the Aldi/Wawa site, but Heartland Dental and Culver’s Restaurant have submitted site plan applications. Other potential users that have talked to staff include a car wash and a tire store, which would complete that site, Fleischmann said.
Councilwoman Phillis Maniglia said she was not fond of a tire store or a car wash that could not serve equestrian vehicles.
“We’re trying to look different than Military Trail,” Maniglia said. “We need to bring things that benefit our community. Having the same thing that’s less than a mile down the road is not benefiting our community.”
Councilman Robert Shorr did not have a problem with the car wash and tire store. “We need tires in our town,” he said.
Fleischmann also updated the council on tree clearing at the site, explaining that the western portion had fewer trees because it once was a pasture. The much more tree-laden eastern portion is also scheduled for clearing, but all native trees would be mitigated or moved. The town has issued permits for the clearing, he said.
“Mitigation for that permit took the form of a cash payment to the town in the amount of $76,625,” he said.
A permit was also issued by the town for the clearing of the equestrian trail along the northern edge of the site and along the south side of Collecting Canal, but the most intensive clearing took place with the creation of six stormwater retention ponds that were dug prematurely, he said.
“This permit was issued after the fact,” Fleischmann said. “Fortunately, they had done a tree survey as part of the master plan approval back in 2018, so we did have an inventory of the trees that were taken. Most of the trees that were taken were Australian pines, which are nonnative species.”
Council members were concerned about the kind of foliage that will be planted in the retention area, as well as along the buffers of the site. There were also questions about an equestrian bridge scheduled to be built, connecting the trail on the site to trails to the north.
Fleischmann said the town’s Roadways, Equestrian, Trails & Greenway Committee toured the trail before Thanksgiving and made recommendations for improvements.
Matthew Barnes, representing the developer, said he would come back to the council with an improved design for the site that would give a better representation of the landscaping plans, as well as incorporating direction from the council.