1000 Friends of Florida

Massive Developments Threatening Rural Palm Beach County

1000 Friends of Florida has compiled a map of a number of development and road projects that are being considered for western Palm Beach County.  1000 Friends is actively monitoring these in order to protect the region’s water supply, agriculture and Everglades restoration efforts.  Check out the map now.

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The following proposals have the potential to add close to 14,500 more houses and apartments and more than 5 million square feet of nonresidential uses (roughly the equivalent of five Gardens Malls) to some of Palm Beach County’s most essential, vulnerable lands. They would generate at least 182,461 car trips per day to the region in an area now characterized by its rural communities, agricultural lands, and wetlands critical to Everglades restoration.

Minto West (formerly Callery-Judge Groves) – 3,900 acres

On October 29, 2014, the Palm Beach County Commission approved plans for Minto West which will bring 2.2 million square feet of commercial development – roughly the equivalent of the massive Sawgrass Mills Mall in Broward County – to a remote corner of Palm Beach County now best known for its agricultural lands and horse trails.   And this does not include the thousands of new homes and college campus Minto West also will bring.

On December 3, 2014, 1000 Friends of Florida filed a legal challenge in circuit court regarding the controversial Minto West project. “Keeping Palm Beach County’s rural lands rural is a high priority,” notes 1000 Friends President Ryan Smart. “We believe this project runs counter to county plans and policies intended to protect rural and agricultural areas.”

“After careful review, we believe the County’s development order for Minto West is clearly inconsistent with several provisions in the Palm Beach County Comprehensive Plan,” says 1000 Friends Policy Director Charles Pattison. “Minto West does not comply with the county’s Rural Tier plan policies regarding the density and intensity of development, roadways, and protection of rural areas in the county.”  Joining in 1000 Friends’ December challenge were ALERTS of Palm Beach County, Patricia Curry and Robert and Karen Schutzer.

Check out some of the letters, editorials and more in opposition to this project:  Minto-at-a-Glance, 1000 Friends’ October 14 letter to the Palm Beach County Commission, other 1000 Friends letters to the Palm Beach County Commission and State Reviewing Agencies outlining our concerns. The Florida Department of Transportation identified these concerns regarding Minto West.  1000 Friends also sent the same letter to the Army Corps of Engineers, which has sent this response. Here is some correspondence provided by ALERTS of PBC, including water quality issues related to the Grassy Waters Preserve, media coverage on potentially radioactive water in the Acreage, water analysis from the Seminole Improvement Water Control District, jurisdiction of the Army Corps of Engineers.  Also, see the outstanding editorial in the August 26 edition of the  South Florida Sun-Sentinel and 1000 Friends’ letter to the editor which ran in the Palm Beach Post.  1000 Friends’ Op Eds ran in the Palm Beach Post and Sun-Sentinel.

Avenir (formerly Vavrus Ranch) – 4,700 acres

This 4,700 acre property’s current land use allows a total of 406 units. The applicant is seeking 4,763 residential units and 2.4 million square feet of non-residential uses, including commercial, retail and office, hotels, medical offices, a university and a golf course. 1000 Friends is pressing for greater preservation areas to support restoration of the Loxahatchee River and its watershed. See 1000 Friends’ January 2016 Comment Letter to the County Commission.

Highland Dunes – 1,200 acres

Palm Beach County recently authorized 2,000 residential units and 30,000-50,000 square feet of commercial uses.

Mecca Farms – 2,000 acres

In 2013, Palm Beach County authorized the sale of Mecca Farms to the SFWMD. 1000 Friends, which played an essential role in protecting these lands from sprawling development in 2004, advocates that the property be utilized for water storage, cleansing, flood control, or a combination of these, and is committed to assisting public agencies in achieving this goal.

Indian Trails Groves (GL Homes) – 4,929 acres

In July 2015 GL Homes submitted the draft PUD for this property, which includes 3,943 dwelling units and 337,600 square feet of non-residential uses.

Ag Reserve

1000 Friends is also monitoring proposals to allow commercial development in the Agricultural Reserve, purchased through a bond referendum in 1999. 1000 Friends continues to advocate strongly against this, as it would violate the public trust and is not in the best interest of the community.

 

1000 Friends is working with policy makers, developers and citizens who support sustainable, thoughtful development to chart a better future for Palm Beach County’s rural lands. Our drinking water, natural lands, wildlife habitats, agricultural lands and very quality of life depend on this.

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