County Planners Support Change At Arden, Amendment For Coconut Palm Plaza

The Palm Beach County Planning Commission recommended approval of two site plan amendments in the western communities on Friday, July 9 — one at Arden and one for the proposed Coconut Palm Plaza.

The 1,210-acre Arden development on the north side of Southern Blvd. about 2.5 miles west of Seminole Pratt Whitney Road asked for the deletion of a condition that the development be phased due to the recent widening of Southern Blvd.

Collene Walter with Urban Design Studios, representing the developer and the homeowners’ association, said the request asks to modify a condition imposed in 2020 when the applicant asked for a land use and development order amendment to increase the number of units in the PUD to 2,334 dwelling units.

“This amendment does not change the land use designation, nor does it change the number of units,” Walter said. “The project is well under construction. It is unique in that it is the county’s first ‘agrihood’ community. There is a working farm on site and a network of trails and lakes throughout the project.”

She noted that the developer satisfied a proportional share agreement after the county granted the request for additional units on the property.

“An updated traffic analysis has been performed this year, and the condition is no longer necessary for compliance,” she said, adding that county staff recommends approval of the request. “They have found that it remains consistent with the comp plan, there’s no change in compatibility because there is no increase in units or change in the site design.”

Walter added that the developer reached out in June to Arden residents and to surrounding residents regarding the change and no concerns were raised.

“I guess the improvements to Southern Blvd. no longer necessitate the phasing?” Planning Commissioner Glenn Gromann asked, and county staff explained that the developer did not participate in the proportional share agreement initially.

Gromann made a motion to approve the amendment, which passed with no objections.

The 11.25-acre Coconut Palm Plaza project at the southeast corner of Northlake and Coconut boulevards requested a change in the land use designation from rural residential, one unit per 20 acres, to commercial low for the development of 49,005 square feet of commercial uses, consisting of general retail and a convenience store with gasoline sales. The site was formerly owned by the United States Postal Service, which sold the property to the developer.

The amendment’s justification is based upon changed conditions in the area since the last request to change the future land use to commercial on this site in 2013. In particular, the 4,700-acre Avenir development under construction to the north, and that residential uses are no longer appropriate at this location, according to the staff report.

County staff concurred that the site is suitable and appropriate for commercial development. However, staff recommended conditions of approval to ensure that the adjacent residences to the south across Hamlin Blvd. are adequately buffered and that the adoption of the future land use amendment and zoning application are held on the same date. The proposed amendment was found to be consistent with applicable comprehensive plan policies and found no service delivery or compatibility issues with the request.

Attorney Bonnie Miskel, representing Coconut Palm Plaza, said the application includes a comp plan amendment from rural residential to commercial low, a zoning map amendment from public ownership to multiple use planned development, conditional use for a gas station and a variance for a landscape buffer.

Miskel said the reason for the application is that conditions that have changed surrounding the property, which now has commercial developments under construction to the north and west.

“Everything to our north is much more intense. It’s in Palm Beach Gardens,” she said.

The developer to the west has approval for 106,000 square feet of commercial, including a grocery store, gas station and retail stores. “The map itself has changed dramatically,” she said.

To the east is a natural area and to the south are single-family homes that will be separated by a 35-foot buffer where only 15 feet is required. The plaza will have an ingress/egress on Northlake Blvd., a right-only ingress on Coconut Blvd. and a right-only egress on Hamlin Blvd. just east of Coconut.

Commissioner John Carr made a motion to approve the amendment, which carried without opposition.