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Amazon wants to build a 65,000 square-foot distribution center at the intersection of Woolbright Road and Military Trail near Boynton Beach but nearby communities are not exactly putting out the welcome mat.

Delray Dunes and Quail Ridge, two large golf-club communities, are gearing up for a major fight to kill the project.

Most Amazon facilities, they note, are in industrial centers, not adjacent to large residential communities. Amazon’s agent recently met with Village of Golf planners to request major changes to the town’s growth plan in order to accommodate the facility. Village of Golf Manager Christine Thrower said the process has just begun. Agents for Amazon were told to revise their plans to see if they can be made more palatable to area residents. Thrower said she expects the project to be discussed again at a meeting in January.

Amazon wants to build a 65,000 square-foot distribution center at the southeast intersection of Woolbright Road and Military Trail.

But the two communities along with the Coalition of West Boynton Residential Associations are expected to argue the location is not appropriate for an Amazon distribution center despite the nearly 100 jobs it may create.

The world’s biggest online retailer recently broke ground on a 1 million square-foot facility on 100 acres in the Palm Beach Park of Commerce, which lies west of Jupiter near the Beeline Highway. The company announced in July that it plans to open a delivery station in Boca Raton this year. Last October, it opened a 96,000-square-foot delivery warehouse on Belvedere Road near Florida’s Turnpike west of West Palm Beach.

With around 300 residents, the Village of Golf is one of the smallest communities in South Florida. It encompasses about 530 acres, including a Publix supermarket that is currently under construction. The supermarket, a self-storage facility, a gas station and retail outlets are all part of a master plan recently approved by the town as are the seven warehouses that Amazon wants to replace with one building.

The Village of Golf location would be an operation similar to Amazon facilities on Belvedere Road and in Pompano Beach in Broward County. Large tractor trailer trucks drop off packages to the facility that are then sorted and placed onto scores of delivery trucks.

“This is basically an around the clock 24/7 operation that is not suited for our community,” Delray Dunes said in a letter to the Village of Golf. “The high-intensity industrial use contained in a single 44-foot-tall building is not compatible with the surrounding communities and will impact all of us negatively.”

A number of Village of Golf residents also said they were opposed to the project during the recent meeting.  But Kelly Smallridge, president and CEO of the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County, told The Post that critics should understand that the 10-acre site is already approved for seven separate warehouse buildings that would generate far more traffic and employ far more people than the Amazon facility. Those seven warehouses would total 100,000 square feet as opposed to the 65,000 square-foot Amazon building.

Thrower said Amazon would need to either seek special exceptions or a zoning change to build one 65,000 square-foot building to replace the already approved seven buildings.

Delray Dunes noted that approving the plans would amount to a drastic reversal of a zoning code that has fostered “low density, neighborhood commercial development.” It questioned why the town would consider locating “industrial development” adjacent to Quail Ridge and Delray Dunes.

The Village of Golf has for the past 65 years held to a two-story height limit, even on its current commercial development in keeping with the surrounding residential neighborhood, Delray Dunes noted.

And Quail Ridge said it was concerned about noise pollution caused by back-up alarms on trucks and other heavy equipment that “will pierce the peaceful nights that our residents enjoy.” Even more important is that approval of Amazon’s plans will “set the precedent for years to come in future development of that property as well as the remaining unsold property along Golf Road.”

 

Source: Palm Beach Post

Changes made to the Comprehensive Plan will now allow self-storage buildings to be exempt from commercial cap space in the Ag Reserve.

When is a 130,000 square-foot, three-story self-storage facility not a commercial business? When it’s in the Ag Reserve.

With the Ag Reserve already at a commercial square-foot cap of 1 million square feet, the builder’s agent, Ken Tuma, came up with a novel approach: Exempt self-storage buildings from the commercial cap.

The reserve was designed as a sanctuary for farming and a rural lifestyle, but much land has still been developed there as western property has boomed in Palm Beach County.

County planning commissioners, urged on by the Planning Commission staff and the Coalition of Boynton West Residential Associations (COBWRA), agreed recently to recommend a change to the county’s Comprehensive Plan to accommodate a self-storage building on a 7-acre tract of land on the northwest corner of Boynton Beach Boulevard and Acme Dairy Road.

Because of the cap, the builder, Gary Smigiel of Lake Worth, was limited to a 40,000 square-foot commercial project, far less than the 130,000 square feet he needs for the self-storage building. He is proposing to build 20,000 square feet of commercial in addition to the self-storage. The commercial project will consist of retail and a restaurant. But the self-storage building won’t be considered commercial if the change to the Comprehensive Plan is made.

County commissioners are expected to act on the Planning Commission recommendation in 2020. Tuma told planning commissioners there is a real need for self-storage facilities as a number of large-scale developments have been built in recent years west of Boynton Beach and Delray Beach. Many of these communities prevent homeowners from storing items in their garages, he noted.

With limited space available for commercial development in the Ag Reserve, developers have yet to build a self-storage building.

The Ag Reserve is an area in the western end of the county with special rules designed to protect the region from over-development. It is the only part of the county with a cap on commercial development and a requirement that residential developers set aside a large portion of their property for open space.

Planning Commissioner Dagmar Brahs was a reluctant supporter of the “West Boynton Center” project. She said she is concerned about a precedent being set that could result in other self-storage facilities being built throughout the Ag Reserve.

“What we are doing here is making a change to accommodate a land user,” Brahs said. “That stinks.”

“To justify the zoning change, many retirees downsized when they moved into Ag Reserve developments,” Tuma said. “It is imperative for many of them to store some of their belongings in nearby self-storage facilities. Self-storage generates much less traffic than the majority of commercial uses permitted in the Ag Reserve.”

The site currently consists of a retail store, a small office and an apartment. The northern portion of the site is utilized for a nursery.

“COBWRA believes that the West Boynton Center is a good fit for the area,” COBWRA representative Steve Oseroff said. “It will serve as a book-end to the Cobblestone Commons commercial development just to the west on Boynton Beach Boulevard.”

 

Source: Palm Beach Post