Groves council defers decision on Okeechobee overlay

Loxahatchee Groves City Council agreed on Tuesday, September 21 to postpone final approval of a comprehensive amendment to the plan creating an Okeechobee Blvd. overlay for up to one year so that it can be reviewed by the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council, as well as getting feedback from city residents on the plan.

“The ordinance was on the August 3 board’s agenda and has been postponed until tonight for second reading,” said planning consultant Jim Fleischmann.

At the August 3 meeting, the council made a change to the text, removing funding methods for different road classifications, Fleischmann said.

In addition, municipal staff altered Okeechobee Boulevard. Corridor map at the request of a landowner to increase the size of the parcels at the northeast corner of D Road and Okeechobee Boulevard. adding what was previously a 10 acre parcel north of three parcels overlooking Okeechobee Blvd.

“This has a long history dating back to 2017, when the owner of this parcel requested that it be divided and that 5 acres be added to the corner parcel and 5 acres be added to two lots east of this intersection. “said Fleischmann.

At the time, city staff determined that the request, made by the owner of a nursery, would comply with city regulations.

“The owner waited until June of this year to file the application with Palm Beach County, and the application was essentially approved on August 4, the day after the council meeting last month. So based on the county’s declaration that it will create two new parcels… we have changed the map to include those 10 acres in the overlay, ”Fleischmann said.

Other than these two changes, the layering remains the same as at the August board meeting. Fleischmann said city staff recommended approval.

During the public comments, Deborah Markham expressed her opposition to commercial ventures on Okeechobee Blvd.

“You talk about trying to restrict traffic and trying to divert traffic, and the business would actually bring traffic to Okeechobee Blvd.” Markham said, explaining that she contacted people with experience in farming businesses. and commercial who said commercial on Okeechobee Blvd. was not a good idea. “One of the things they proposed was to strengthen our agricultural guidelines.”

Loxahatchee Groves Landowners Association president Virginia Standish said she was intrigued by the layering.

“I understand the principle. I understand the time spent, but like everything else, just because a lot of time has been spent doesn’t mean it’s ready for prime time, ”Standish said. “This is a low impact non-residential development project. This is how it was presented, but no traffic or impact study was carried out.

She said her biggest concern is that landscaping services have been authorized and that there are no restrictions on the number of vehicles allowed. She also noticed that the category of historic heritage uses had been modified from 2006 to 2020.

“What I see here is that you are allowing more operations with a lot of vehicles,” Standish said. “We have to recognize that agriculture is commercial. Farm businesses also have large vehicles.

Cassie Suchy said she felt the layering was rushed.

“This is an extremely important issue for this city,” Suchy said. “There were no studies. Did anyone spend a weekend to see what kind of commercial traffic comes in and out of Red Barn on Okeechobee? Has anyone done a crime analysis? Has anyone tried to see what the potential is if the 71 properties as they exist all break down into a minimum requirement? “

She suggested an impact study to answer these questions and that a referendum be organized for all voters in the city.

After several other speakers, City Councilor Phillis Maniglia brought forward a motion to postpone the overlay and request an extension from the state.

“This is time sensitive, and meanwhile ask the Treasure Coast [Regional Planning Council] to review the overlay and overlay design and give us your feedback, and give the people of this city more time and opportunity to explore and ask questions and let us know what their desires and visions are for Okeechobee Blvd. She said.

Fleischmann said there was no limit to time extensions of an order on a compensation plan, and Maniglia suggested up to a year. The motion was carried 5-0.

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