ITID Board Urges Residents To Support Land Swap

The proposed land swap would not only lead to 1,295 fewer residential units, but would also leave 974 additional acres of land preserved, rather than part of the residential development.

Whether via e-mail, phone or petition, the Indian Trail Improvement District Board of Supervisors is urging area residents to reach out to the Palm Beach County Commission and support the latest proposal by GL Homes that would move 1,285 planned housing units out of the area.

“It’s really important for the community to support this,” ITID Vice President Betty Argue said during the board’s Wednesday, Aug. 17 meeting. “If we can reduce those units by 1,285, that’s essentially 12,850 less cars on our [district] roads every day.”

The plan requires approval by county commissioners of a controversial land swap between the Indian Trails Grove tract located northwest of The Acreage and what is known as the Hyder West property that GL Homes owns off State Road 7 west of Delray Beach in the county’s so-called Agricultural Reserve.

On Aug. 12, the Palm Beach County Planning Commission voted 8-4 against the move, but the proposal goes before the seven-member county commission on Wednesday, Aug. 31.

The Palm Beach County Commission can overrule the planning commission’s advice and move the land swap concept forward, as they did earlier this year to begin the process.

The final showdown then would likely come in late October when the county commission would be asked to vote on changes to the comprehensive plan that would allow the swap.

ITID supervisors voted 4-0 to direct staff to send a letter of support for the GL Homes plan to the county.

A petition of support for the swap has been set up at Click on “Take Action” at the top of the home page.

The shift of housing units “would absolutely be beneficial to us,” ITID Executive Director Burgess Hanson said this week. “It would cut down the number of vehicles on our roads [in the future]. It will leave us with more open space and improve water quality.”

During an Aug. 10 special meeting of the board, GL Homes representatives outlined the latest proposal for the 4,871-acre Indian Trails Grove tract. The county already has approved 3,897 housing units, 300,000 square feet of commercial space and 50,000 square feet of office space for the site.

With the swap in place, the number of units built there would be reduced to 2,612, commercial development would be limited to 200,000 square feet and office space to 33,500 square feet.

Lands dedicated for agricultural and water resources would be increased by 980 acres, and publicly dedicated land would increase from 640 acres to more than 1,600 acres. The district would get limited control over a 740-acre water storage area, including three pump stations that GL Homes would build.

Larry Portnoy, a GL Homes vice president who made the presentation, assured the board that the water project was not a pie-in-the-sky idea.

“GL can’t build a single home until the water project is completed,” he said, estimating the work would take two-and-a-half to three years.

Home construction would begin in three to five years, he said.

Meanwhile, GL would get the right to build 1,000-unit adult community on 477 acres of the 681-acre Hyder West property. At the same time, GL would build 277 workforce housing units on 104 acres of the property.

ITID Supervisor Joni Martin said the swap would benefit the district from a water management standpoint, and that it “would be a big deal to have fewer houses put up out here. Fewer houses mean potentially less traffic.”

“We need to make sure that ITID is protected,” Argue added. “But I think it’s great. It’s wonderful what GL is planning to do.”

However, the swap plan has garnered opposition from several environmental groups that claim it would set a precedent that could further erode the viability of the Agricultural Reserve, and from vocal residents in the western suburbs of Delray Beach and Boca Raton.

“If the county commissioners don’t hear from us, then the people in the south will win out,” Argue said.


  1. Honest question. How does reducing the number of housing units by 1,285 = 12,850 less cars per day?

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