Groves Council Begins State-Mandated Review Of Comp Plan

At a Loxahatchee Groves Town Council workshop meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 3, the council discussed a schedule for the review of its state-mandated Evaluation and Appraisal Review (EAR), which updates the elements of the town’s comprehensive plan.

At the meeting, Planning Consultant Jim Fleischmann provided the council a draft of the comp plan’s Introduction element, along with some proposed text revisions to the Future Land Use element and Transportation element. He recommended a discussion of the Introduction element, particularly the “community character goal” portion.

However, council members felt that they did not have enough advanced notice to review the proposed texts revisions and decided that beginning with the most controversial portions of the comp plan is not the way to go.

“I recall the council deciding to discuss this at pre-agenda meetings, one topic at a time,” Vice Mayor Laura Danowski said.

She said that the council was not prepared to discuss the Future Land Use element — which Danowski called the “hottest topic in town” — at that meeting.

“Can’t we just slide into this with, like, the Intergovernmental Coordination element? That’s an easy one,” she said.

The council agreed to open the discussion by reviewing easier and less-controversial parts of the comp plan, starting Jan. 9 with a workshop on the Conservation, Recreation/Open Space and Housing portions of the plan, followed on Jan. 23 with a discussion of the sections on Intergovernmental Coordination, Property Rights and Capital Improvements. While capital improvements have tended to be controversial in Loxahatchee Groves, the town does have an approved capital improvements plan that was discussed as part of the recent budget process.

A discussion of the Transportation and Infrastructure elements will follow on Feb. 6. Then the council will return to the more controversial and lengthy Future Land Use element, along with the comp plan’s Introduction element. However, a date for that discussion was not set at the Jan. 3 meeting.

After all of the elements have been discussed and updated, the council will hold a final workshop on the entire document before a series of public hearings later in the year. Then the revised comp plan will be adopted.

The entire process is anticipated to be completed over the next six to eight months, which includes time for review and input by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity in Tallahassee.

The council did look at some of the recommended changes, but also expressed concerns regarding other portions that exist in the current comp plan.

“This is an Evaluation and Appraisal Report of the comprehensive plan, and it is required by Florida Statutes,” Town Manager Francine Ramaglia said. “So, the idea that we have language in here that we don’t want is exactly why this is required to be done at regular intervals.”

She said that whatever language the council objects to, be it newly recommended changes or items that have been there for years, can be changed through this process.

“It is all subject to however we wish to change it to match today and tomorrow,” Ramaglia said.