Thursday morning the Board of County Commissioners will consider whether to approve 288 new homes in a section of Boca del Mar. The community was home to the Mizner Trail golf course, but that has been defunct since 2005. The areas that would have new homes added are outlined roughly in red in the above image.
Zoning staff for the county recommended against the proposal. Public comment was filled mostly with opposition from members of the community.
On November 18th 1,927 Courtesy Notices were sent to the surrounding residents, 1,706 certified and 221 regular mail. Of those notices mailed, to dates staff has received 270 responses in opposition and 29 in support.
However, the Zoning Commission voted to recommend approval in a 5-4 vote. It appears that Sheri Scarborough voted in favor of adding the 288 homes. She is the zoning commissioner from West Boca and also the head of the West Boca Community Council. We can’t tell for sure how she voted because minutes from that December 6th meeting (over a month ago) are not published. But the agenda item for Thursday morning’s meeting lists the four commissioners who voted against it and Ms. Scarborough is not one of them. The rather large pdf file is here: Mizner Trail Agenda Item. Ms. Scarborough’s support is interesting in light of her opposition to the expansion of the casino in Coconut Creek, which is much further from West Boca and will have less traffic impact on us.
Staff criticisms of the project were lengthy. Below are some excerpts:
However, in the Justification Statement the applicant did not address whether the proposed modification of the Master Plan to change the area master planned as golf course/open space, which is a key design feature of the PUD, functioning as a green area/open space/recreation amenity and replacing it with 288 residential units, would allow the integrity of the Master Plan to be maintained. The applicant also did not address how the proposed layout and general development characteristics will enhance the built environment, and will minimize impacts on the surrounding areas.
In Staff’s professional opinion, the applicant’s design does not address adverse impacts created by the loss of the open space (golf course) on the existing residents. The applicant proposes to maximize units at a loss of the green space enjoyed or benefited from by for the current residents.
While staff recognizes the majority of these amenities, features, and details as exemplary elements at the minimum level to comply with the ULDC, staff concludes that the overall layout of the proposal fails to reflect the exemplary design standards or applying of an imaginative design approach to retrofit residential units in a golf course that was originally incorporated into a residential community. Staff has identified the following areas of concern with the proposal:
• 8 of the 9 proposed streets terminate in a dead-end or cul-de-sac, thereby compromising a continuous and interconnected transportation network (see Staff’s analysis of Cul-de-sac as listed above);
• The pedestrian circulation and connectivity to existing tracts, open spaces and recreation areas is minimal to non-existent; conflicting with the requirements to reduce traffic trips on the road and impervious areas. The applicant responded that it was not applicable;
• The benches and play structures in the usable open space areas and along pathways was noted in the applicant’s justification statement as not applicable;
• Pedestrian Circulation System. The applicant could have enhanced this system by incorporating it into the design and layout of the proposed Pods and the existing Pods. The applicant responded that this was not applicable. The conversion of this existing golf cart path to a pedestrian pathway could have been incorporated as a community amenity that supports a quality layout function, design and character between the proposed Pods and the existing residential Pods; and,
• Cross Access shall be provided to adjacent internal uses/properties. The applicant states that they do have not legal ability to link to the adjacent properties.
We will soon know how this is resolved. It has been a lengthy process and the project was rejected at least once before. That led to a court case which ruled in favor of the county and effectively against the project.
Please note that Boca del Mar is east of Powerline Road. We tend to think of West Boca as being everything west of the Turnpike, or possibly west of Jog and Powerline. However, this section is west of the City of Boca Raton, which is another way of thinking of West Boca Raton – anything west of the city. The area is likely to be annexed by the city at some point, but not yet. Also, since the expansion would have traffic impacts on roads traveled by residents of West Boca, especially SW 18th and Palmetto Park, it matters to those of us who drive that way.