Atlantic Crossing sues

A week ago, the Delray Beach City Commission and representatives of Atlantic Crossing basically agreed that the city would choose a preferred option for adding an access road back to the project, and the developers would try to make it work.

On Wednesday, Atlantic Crossing sued Delray Beach. The action may be just part of the lengthy dance between the developers and the city over the access road. The notification letter says Atlantic Crossing “remains prepared to continue working with the city to achieve an east-west road” but must “protect its vested rights. . .” The letter notes that the Atlantic Crossing site plan—without the road—got approval from the Site Plan Advisory Board in 2013 and the commission in 2014.

Delray Beach had been hoping to resolve this issue amicably by September. The lawsuit is not amicable, but it also may be merely an attempt to prod the city.

Boca Dunes: the next Mizner Trail?

It will not be “Mizner Trail: The Sequel” before the Palm Beach County Commission today, even if it feels much like that.

Last year, it was Boca Del Mar where developers wanted to turn a golf course into housing. After a decade of trying, the developers got their way. The commission allowed 255 homes on the former Mizner Trail course that the owners had closed a decade ago. It was the south course in the massive Boca Del Mar community west of the city.

Residents who looked out onto the course objected to the project. After the commission approved it, the residents sued. They got a hearing, lost, and decided not to appeal.

This time, the course is Boca Dunes, west of Lyons Road between Palmetto Park Road and Southwest 18th Street. Again, residents with views of the course are expected to object when the matter come before the county commission, acting as the zoning commission. But there are key differences.

Mizner Trail was part of Boca Del Mar, designated as open space as one condition for approval of the larger project. Boca Dunes—18 traditional holes and a nine-hole executive layout—is a self-contained course that was surrounded by homes as development sprawled west.

Also, the developers—K. Hovnanian—don’t want to close the course, though it has been getting less play. They want to convert 41.5 acres of the roughly 153 acres to about 200 townhomes and keep the 40-year-old course open. In addition, Mizner Trail meandered through Boca Del Mar, bringing it close to many homes. At Boca Dunes, the homes mostly circle the course.

Most important, the county can find no prior zoning for Boca Dunes. With Mizner Trail, a major legal argument was over that open-space designation and what it represented. Seven years ago, a judge ruled that the land had no development rights.

In 2013, the commission allowed conversion of a course next to Century Village in West Palm Beach, despite much resistance from neighbors. Each of these cases is different, but the similarity is that even in South Florida more golf courses are hurting. If you live on one, don’t take the view for granted.

Mizner Trail flip

If you’re wondering when work will start on those homes at Mizner Trail, nothing will happen soon. As some speculated, the developer is flipping the property.

Boca Raton-based Compson Associates has listed the 127 acres with CBRE. The listing notes that the former course offers “a rare opportunity to build a large-scale residential community in a high-barrier-to-entry location,” meaning that there isn’t much open land left near the coast.  CBRE will be taking offers through Tuesday.

Ag Reserve debate postponed

Those who favor and oppose allowing more development in the county’s Agricultural Reserve Area had been gearing up for a debate today before the county commission. They will have to wait.

The issue is an amendment to land-use rules that would make smaller farms more attractive to developers and thus increase the potential of those farmers to sell out. The proposal involves changes to how land is set aside for preservation in that region voters taxed themselves to keep in agriculture.

The proposal is less controversial than others that county staff had considered, but even this small change lost 12-0 when it went before the Palm Beach County Planning Commission. The result affirmed the strong public sentiment against thwarting the will of the voters that they expressed 16 years ago.

County Mayor Shelley Vana, who is out of town this week, asked that the issue be postponed to the next meeting of the zoning commission, which is on July 30. A month’s delay, though, won’t change the sentiment.

The budget, aka FAU’s Big Chill

Florida Atlantic University did much better with the Board of Governments this year than it did with the Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott.

First, the Legislature did not include money in the state budget to build classrooms at the Jupiter campus for FAU’s biotech program. Then on Tuesday, Scott vetoed the $1 million appropriation for FAU’s Tech Runway, a program that helps entrepreneurs. It was an odd veto from a governor who supposedly backs investment that could lead to economic development. Scott said he vetoed the FAU money and other related appropriations because “they circumvent current established review processes and funding is available through other sources.”

Quiet zones still on the horizon

There must have been mild panic when city officials in Boca Raton and Delray Beach saw that one of the state budget items Gov. Scott vetoed Tuesday was $10 million for quiet zones on railroad tracks.

By the time All Aboard Florida’s trains start running in 2017, there supposedly will have been enough safety improvements at crossings between the Palm Beach-Broward line and West Palm Beach that trains won’t need to blow their horns. In addition to 32 new passengers trains running daily, horns on the new Florida East Coast Railway freight engines are much louder. The Delray Beach City Commission voted to express concern that All Aboard Florida will have a “negative impact” on the city unless the company addresses the city’s concerns.

By mid-afternoon Tuesday, six hours after Scott issued his veto message, the Metropolitan Planning Organization had sent an email to say that money for All Aboard Florida’s quiet zone comes from federal gas tax revenue, not the state budget. The money goes to the organization to pay for local transportation priorities. The organization said the governor’s veto would have “no effect” on quiet zones in Palm Beach County. On Wednesday, the Broward MPO chimed in that the veto would have no effect on the quiet zone in that county.

Correction

In Tuesday’s post, I referred to Boca Raton Community Hospital. It is, of course, Boca Raton Regional Hospital.

 

About the Author

Randy Schultz was born in Hartford, Conn., and graduated from the University of Tennessee in 1974. He has lived in South Florida since then, and in Boca Raton since 1985. Schultz spent nearly 40 years in daily journalism at the Miami Herald and Palm Beach Post, most recently as editorial page editor at the Post. His wife, Shelley, is director of The Learning Network at Pine Crest School. His son, an attorney, and daughter-in-law and three grandchildren also live in Boca Raton. His daughter is a veterinarian who lives in Baltimore.