County Commission Supports Arden, Coconut Palm Applications

The Palm Beach County Commission.

The Palm Beach County Commission approved the transmittal of two privately proposed amendments Wednesday, July 28 regarding the Arden development off Southern Blvd. and the planned Coconut Palm Plaza on Northlake Blvd.

Arden is a planned unit development on the north side of Southern Blvd. near 20-Mile Bend. The residential development is a little over 1,200 acres. The application asks the county to delete a requirement that the development be phased due to traffic concerns, since Southern Blvd. has been widened.

Collene Walter with Urban Design Studios, representing the Arden Homeowners’ Association and Highlands Dunes Associates, said they are asking for a change to the conditions of approval from before Southern Blvd. was widened.

“The request before you this morning does not change the land use or zoning designation,” Walter said. “The PUD is approved for 2,334 units, and it is well under construction.”

She explained that last year, when the applicant was granted permission to increase the number of units within the PUD, a phasing condition was imposed. Traffic impacts were addressed by a proportionate share agreement in conjunction with the development order. A recent traffic study showed that the phasing requirement is no longer needed, she said.

“The applicant is requesting that the condition of approval be deleted,” Walter said. “Also concurrent with this application is a development order amendment application to delete the condition from the zoning resolution, as well as to change the proportionate share agreement to increase the monetary contributions.”

County staff recommended approval of the change.

Walter said the applicant has met with community residents and county staff, and has held two public meetings in the past month, which received no objections.

Commissioner Melissa McKinlay made a motion to approve transmittal of the amendment request, which carried 7-0.

The commissioners also approved transmittal of the Coconut Palm Plaza application, with a condition that it remove a right-only exit onto Hamlin Blvd.

Coconut Palm Plaza is on 11.25 acres at the southeast corner of Northlake and Coconut boulevards. It is asking for a land use change from rural residential to commercial low. A concurrent zoning application is requesting the development of 49,005 square feet of commercial uses, consisting of retail and a convenience store with gas sales. The site was formerly owned by the United States Postal Service and proposed for a post office.

Attorney Bonnie Miskel, representing the applicant, said the site is on the northern fringe of The Acreage and south of the Avenir project in Palm Beach Gardens. She said the current applicant acquired the property in 2013 from the federal government, which owned it for about 12 years until the plan to build a post office there was dropped.

“Most of the properties surrounding this one are developed,” Miskel said. “The property to the north is under construction. That is the Avenir project. There are two residential homes on the south side of Hamlin that are constructed.”

She added that there are companion rezoning applications asking for a change in use from public ownership to commercial low, which would be presented at a later meeting.

Miskel pointed out that the applicant presented a plan in 2013 that met with strong opposition from the public, adding that the applicant has tried to mitigate those objections by moving all buildings toward the center of the site and increasing the size of buffers to more than is required, and changing an ingress/egress on Hamlin Blvd. to right-out-only as close to Coconut Blvd. as possible.

“What we heard from the neighborhood back then was a concern about mitigating the intensity by pushing the buildings away, which we did, and splitting it from one long building into two,” she said. “It’s significantly further away from the residential properties to the south.”

Miskel added that the county has required the applicant to dedicate 30 feet of right of way to Coconut Blvd. to allow for expansion of the intersection.

“We’ve more than doubled the buffer requirement; 15 [feet] is the minimum required,” she said. “We’re proposing and committed to 35 [feet], which has been incorporated as a condition.”

During public comment, several residents objected to a gas station being built there due to the proximity of residential homes in the area that get potable water from wells, as well as the right-only exit to Hamlin Blvd.

Staff recommended approval of the transmittal with conditions.

McKinlay asked why the egress on Hamlin was necessary, and Motasem Al-Turk with the traffic division said the egress was necessary because the site adjacent to Coconut Blvd. was too close to the Northlake Blvd. to accommodate an egress, and not having an egress on Hamlin would only leave the Northlake Blvd. egress.

McKinlay made a motion to transmit the request, clarifying that discussion of the gas station would be brought up later.

“I am not OK with that access coming onto Hamlin, so I’d like to take that off the table,” she said. “My motion would be to transmit, removing the access onto Hamlin.”

The motion by McKinlay passed 7-0.