Over the objections of nearby landowners, Palm Beach County commissioners decided Monday that a warehouse-sized store should be allowed to rise on 64 acres of undeveloped land near the northwest corner of Seminole Pratt Whitney Road and Southern Boulevard.
The commission voted 4-3 to eliminate a restriction on the size of stores that can be built on the property. Commissioners Karen Marcus, Paulette Burdick and Jess Santamaria voted against lifting the restriction.
The proposal will be sent to state officials for review. The commission will hold a final vote on the issue in October or November.
“It is not like we are putting it in the middle of the Acreage,” Commissioner Shelley Vana said. “It is on Southern Boulevard.”
The proposal has drawn criticism from The Acreage Landowners’ Association, which has said it fears it will lead to more commercial development in their community.
County rules allow up to 280,000 square feet of commercial space to be built on the land, but they limit the size of any single store to no more than 65,000 square feet. The proposal tentatively approved by commissioners on Monday would eliminate the 65,000-square-foot restriction, ultimately allowing a larger “big box” store, such as a Home Depot, to be built on the property.
Commissioner Jess Santamaria, whose district includes the site, said many nearby residents moved to the area because they liked its rural lifestyle.
“There are some people who do want modernization of the area, but the great majority of the people really came for the same reason why I moved (here): the openness, the isolation,”Santamaria said. “My problem is that we are forcing people to take something we think is the right thing for them.”
Tom Pelham, the former head of the state’s Department of Community Affairs, represented landowner Geoff Sluggett at Monday’s meeting. The change would provide The Acreage with a much-needed regional shopping hub, Pelham said.
The proposal “recognizes the very serious planning problem that we have in that area,” he said. “There is a significant need for this kind of development to serve the area. Without it, this is just another strip shopping center.”
Source: Palm Beach Post
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