Lox Mayor Suggests Developer Turn Over Equestrian Bridge Project To Town

At the Loxahatchee Groves Town Council meeting on Tuesday, March 1, Groves Town Center representative Dan Zimmer thanked the council for work that was done over the past month regarding speeding up permitting for the development.

“Since then, we were able to obtain the vegetation removal permit that we were looking for,” Zimmer said during an update on the development’s progress. “That was helpful to our project.”

During last month’s discussion, he had made a commitment to come back to discuss some of the comments that were made, which included reports of trash on or near the equestrian trail, a need to remove exotic vegetation in the easement area and incidences of barbed wire near the rail entrances.

“We are also committed to take a look at an alternative to locating the equestrian bridge near Collecting Canal to its existing approved location,” he said. “We’ve looked at all those items as a team. We’re back tonight to discuss the plan for addressing those items.”

Equestrian trail cleanup and stabilization of the trail, especially the sandy areas, are underway, he said, adding that cleanup will be completed this month.

Removal of exotics is also underway. “That was important, and we’ve made progress on that,” Zimmer said, explaining that he has contracted with Ecotone Services to manage the cleanup of the entire 22.5-acre site.

“All the Category 1 exotic and nuisance plants that are currently listed will be cut and treated,” he said. “All the woody vegetation will be cut by Ecotone, chipped and hauled off the site.”

Zimmer added that there are several permits that need to be finalized. “I think we’re going to make progress on them as well,” he said.

Zimmer displayed pictures of piles of debris that he believed had been deposited on the site by a neighbor, adding that neighbors are encroaching on the property’s conservation easement. He asked that the town’s code enforcement investigate the issue.

Further, Zimmer said he has engaged with Broad Park Equestrian Services to restrict trail accessibility, explaining that there are tire tracks believed to be dirt bikes or ATVs detrimental to the footings of horse trails. He suggested that bollards be installed at entrances to restrict unauthorized users.

“There could be some simple things put at the entrances on B Road and C Road, whether it be bollards or something else, to try to restrict those unauthorized users from coming in and tearing up the horse trail,” Zimmer said, adding that he is looking to shore up and compact sandy areas of the horse trail with horse-safe aggregates.

He said the proposed relocation of the equestrian bridge at the northeastern corner of the property about 80 feet to the east to avoid conflict with existing drainage infrastructure is a modest change, but it is a change.

 “We think there would be additional costs associated with the relocation,” Zimmer said, asking the town to foot the costs of the relocation, estimated at $17,500. “We had been asked a long time ago to build an equestrian bridge. The location was approved. We had talked about that last month.”

Mayor Robert Shorr pointed out that the developer still has 22 months to complete the bridge and asked Zimmer if the developer would consider a payment to the town of what it would cost them to put in the bridge and pass the project on to the town.

Zimmer said he had not considered it and would have to think about it.

Shorr asked for a consensus of the council to consider that option and got nods from Vice Mayor Laura Danowski and Councilwoman Marianne Miles. Councilwoman Marge Herzog asked if there would be an escape clause in case the town’s cost estimate is higher than the developer’s estimate.

Shorr said the consensus would be just to explore the option. “It’s payment in lieu of the bridge,” he said.

Public Works Director Larry Peters said the town could build the bridge in considerably less time than 22 months but would have to get cost estimates. Nevertheless, he said the cost would probably be less than the developer’s estimate.

Shorr thanked Zimmer for his presentation, adding that he expected to see him again in the near future.