PBC Planning Commission Denies GL Homes Land Swap Proposal
Palm Beach County Planning Commission Denies GL Homes Land Swap Proposal By 9-4 Vote. Proposal Still Moves Forward To County Commission.
Palm Beach County, FL – Boca Post (BocaPost.com) — The Palm Beach County Planning Commission met on January 14th, 2022 and voted against the GL Homes Land Swap Proposal which would allow for development of close to 4,000 homes on the Ag Reserve.
GL Homes has proposed a zoning change along with a ‘land swap’ to Palm Beach County to allow them to build 1,000 luxury homes which would generate more than an estimated $1B in sales. The proposal also touts building 250 more affordable workforce homes to address the workforce housing crisis. GL is also boasting that they will donate land for a county park, deed 30 acres of land for a civic site bank, and deed another 1600 acres of prime preservation land at Indian Trails Grove.
GL Homes has made it clear that if this land swap is unsuccessful, they plan to build on the 1,600 acres at Indian Trails Grove where they received approval to build 3,897 homes in 2016. Clearly, the land it would build on the Hyder West parcel in west Boca Raton would generate much more income than the Indian Trails Grove property.
The Votes And What Happens Next
Palm Beach County Planning Commission voted against staff’s recommendation of the proposal for further consideration by a vote of 4-9. Due to the current process, the proposal will still proceed to Board of County Commissioners along with the Planning Board’s disapproval. The PBC planning commission also passed a motion to deny the proposal’s application which passed 9-4.
Members of the planning and zoning board voting results are as follows:
- John Carr, yes
- Barbara Roth, no
- Lori Vinikoor, no
- Penny Pompei, yes
- Dagmar Brahs, no
- Sarah Purdue, yes
- Kiley Harper-Larsen, no
- Angela Vann, yes
- Marcia Hayden, no
- Rick Stopek, no
- Eric Royal, no
- Edwin Ferguson, no
- Cara Capp, no
The initiation that the zoning board voted against on January 14th is only an advisory to the board of county commissioners to consider at the February 2nd, 2022 board meeting.
Drew Martin of the Sierra Club was in attendance voicing his opinion of the amendment saying “It’s going to destroy the Ag Reserve” and calling it the “pie in the sky”. Martin said “I think the county should just say No now and end this.”
Another Sierra Club member, Arlene Berry, said “The swap is a gimmick” and “let the buyer beware.”
The PBC Zoning Board director, Patricia Behn, said that from the staff’s position, initiation does not mean staff approval. However, PBC zoning staff ultimately recommended this privately initiated for initiation by the planning board. Behn also said that that she received direction from the board on November 3rd to speak with the applicant, gather information, present it to the board. She mad it clear that it was not being presented as a motion or a initiation at that time.
Cliff Hertz, partner at Nelson Mullins, the law firm representing GL Homes, said “I don’t like GL’s credibility being put at issue, they do have consultants, water consultants who are highly regarded and respected in this community”. Hertz went on to say “‘the potential water benefits from the ownership of the 1600 acres is really not in doubt so lets not play games here”
During the roll call vote, Dogmar Brahs, planning and zoning commissioner, added “This is not a game”. Brahs went on to say how she has been involved with the Ag reserve for 30 years and said “I work for free. I don’t play games”.
Commissioner Lori Vinikoor expressed her frustration that the vote may essentially mean nothing when she said “I don’t feel that we are holding anybody up with if we don’t initiate, because they do have a plan there, and its an approved project”.
What Is The Ag Reserve?
The Palm Beach County Agricultural Reserve (‘Ag Reserve’) is a 20,923 acre region in the area west of Delray Beach and Boynton Beach in Palm Beach County that has been dedicated to farming essentially since the 1970s.