So, the whole reason that GL Homes is taking the time to meet with Canyon HOA’s is that they wanted to clear the air about what appears to be a good bit of confusion over their plan to add 3 new communities.
My best advice is to Compartmentalize… There are a lot of moving parts and it is easy not to “see the forest for the trees“… So I will try to nutshell this in a few parts. (my normal tendency would be to write a novel so know that I’m trying to be brief)
#1 – the Elephant in the Room is the Ag Reserve and the absurdity of the idea that GL is trying to “Dismantle it”.
First of all, the Ag Reserve runs roughly from Lantana Rd on the North to Clint Moore Rd on the South. The East Boundary is the Turnpike and the West is the Loxahatchee Everglades Natural Preserve. AKA Lake Worth to Boca
The Ag Reserve was basically a precursor to the “Farm to Table” movement. Let’s grow more locally as we have a great climate for year round growth. The Reserve as described above is 22,000 acres. It already includes our homes in the Canyons, Valencias, Isola Bella, Cobblestone, Equus, etc etc etc. The comprehensive plan was to allow about 15-16K homes be built in the reserve and we’re only at 10,500 or so. So there are 4500 +/- to go. And that counts developments that are already on the table and planned but not built.
GL Homes only controls about 3.5% of the Ag Reserve – 770 acres…so it is NOT a huge blow.
But they have 5000 more acres West of Loxahatchee which is currently being farmed – but it has recently been approved for 3,600 homes. The problem is that there are no schools, restaurants and other infrastructure to support homes there. Also….even a bigger problem is that:
the Farming community in Palm Beach County would much rather have people live HERE in West Boynton and Farm THERE in Loxahatchee!!…
It is better for their water. It is easier for them to spray crops and not contaminate our homes… and they don’t have heavy farm machines on our roads. Those 5000 acres are MORE valuable as Farm land than as a neighborhood…to them and to us
GL Homes wants to offer that land to the county in exchange for the right to build in this area …and they already have the right to build some of what they want. There is really only one NEW community in the mix. The other two have been planned and approved for years now.
So… for the Anti-development crowd to claim GL is trying some sinister move to destroy farmland, it just isn’t the case. In fact, the newer planned community would require an exchange of 3 acres of Reserve to 1 of buildable land!! (and it is a community that would actually appeal to the average opposition member!)
So…the next logical part of this discussion would be the actual Communities.
There are only 2 communities that directly affect the West Boynton area…and that’s really where the dissent comes from. So let’s talk the NEW one first.
The NEW Community would be West of 441…North of Clint Moore…approximately across the street from Saturnia Isles, South of the Pero Farms property.. It would be a Valencia Product of about 1200 units, making it the largest Valencia to date.
And…it could be a Delray or Boca Address…and it would be 5 miles away from US. So…for all the boo-birds who do not want another over-55 product in this area, it won’t be!! In fact, it makes a lot of sense for GL to build there… put a pin in this because there is a slight caveat.
This parcel is Ag Reserve…and to remove the Reserve would cost 1.5 acres of new reserve for every acre “Unwound”…. and then another 1.5acres of Reserve for every acre to become buildable! So a 3 to 1 swap.
THE FARMERS WANT THE LOX LAND, NOT West Boca Land!! West Boca wants warm bodies, not Farmers…
Properties 2 & 3… so they would be the brand extension of Dakota, currently being built at Atlantic and 441. So…for fun let’s refer to Atlantic/441 as SOUTH DAKOTA and the to-be-built as NORTH DAKOTA. GL will love me for this 🙂
North Dakota will be 2 communities.
The first is something we pass every day…it is South of Equus, touching Lyons, 441 north of Faith Farm, Boynton Beach Blvd East of Somerset Canyons….it is shaped like Oklahoma, but Dakota is probably a better name for marketing. This community is already approved. It is being built. There is absolutely no reason to believe we should spend any energy protesting it. The only change is that they want to move from 550 units to 720 +/-.
The second is a little more “hidden”…it is East of Cobblestone…bordered by Acme Dairy on the West. Yes – where the nursery burns stuff. All that will be cleaned up and Acme Dairy will be officially extended to accommodate the growth as it has been planned to be for years. This will be 360 units.
North and South Dakotas are all 50′ x 115′ zero-lot products.
They are comparable to the majority of Canyon Trails, Kettle Drum/Gentlewood area in Canyon Lakes, Majestic Isles/Sandy Crest in Isles and Pony Walk / Morgan Landing in Springs…and the other couple streets involved. Those are the smallest lots in the Canyons…and the Canyons’ lots are deeper which is why we can accommodate more pools. There are still many homes in Canyon on larger lots which is part of what will make people continue to look at us when new is available.
These two communities are good to go…they do not need a public hearing for approval. So let’s let it go and talk about the benefits we get from GL in return.
So GL has decided that to proceed with this growth plan, they will offer us some improvements.
Acme Dairy will get a new North Bound Lane starting at the Pond and continuing to the light. This will be the “commuter lane” to satisfy those people from Canyon Trails who need to access Boynton Beach Blvd despite the school traffic. We all know that “Connector Rd” will soon no longer suffice for AM traffic. Trying to make a left into the Car Line for Sunset Palms Elementary, and the new Sunset Middle is not going to work. (more later).
Lyons Road will be widened. GL built the road from Boynton to Canyon Springs where the county finally built from Springs to Atlantic. GL built that road as a 4 lane thoroughfare with medians. It is now a bottleneck. Lyons from Clint Moore to Atlantic will soon be 4 lanes…so why wouldn’t the county have just made Atlantic to Springs 4 lanes. yeah…
So GL will expand into the shoulder which is Right of Way…it will NOT delete the median and it will NOT eat up the 100′ of Parks on either side of Lyons. It will need more lighting, but the road is there in the plans.. it just needs paving. Note: the sound barriers in place were supposedly meant to be sufficient for 4 lanes.
People suggested a few more items:
- Lighting on Acme Dairy – which GL may not be able to do. The County has to submit their park plan to GL and our communities prior to approval so we will have to take it up with the County. I would hope we also ask for some barrier fence to keep cars off the grass where the kids walk.
- Building the Park for the County – this was offered! The County could just pay GL back when the money comes through. County did a hard pass.
- Better dining options – this isn’t in the control of the landlord – it isn’t “If you build it, they will come” for the restaurant, but if more homes are built, maybe the restaurateurs will be able to afford to stay in business.
- Schools will come later in the discussion
OK FINE!! Schools.
Let’s get this one out of the way. The Sunset Middle School will start construction in 2018 and open August 2019 barring a complete meltdown of some sort. It is happening.
Note: It will NOT double the number of cars on Acme Dairy because of one serious matter…Middle Schools start later. The Sunset Palms car line will be long gone before the school opens to the Middle School Parents.
Elementary School. This is quick and less controversial. Basically, there will be 30 acres set aside in West Boca/Delray for a new Elementary school…why? because there are 2 more Bridges coming and they need their own school. Not our issue!
Now…the last part is very divisive…the proposed High School. This is 75 acres across and slightly North of Equus. So, in a nutshell, GL is trying to force the county’s hand to expedite this school. It benefits us…and it benefits North Dakotas. It makes the property values for us better and substantiates North Dakota’s median pricing of $625K.
So, the $10 million they are giving to the school board is theoretically for both Elem and High…but let’s do the math.
The High School gets say $5 Million plus 75 acres worth approximately $11.25M. That’s $16.25M towards the Total Cost of development. It is supposed to serve 2500 students. The estimate to build a school with facilities and fields is said to be $75M. So let’s say $90M to be super conservative and give them a better soccer/lacrosse and baseball complex.
- $90M less $16.25 is 73.75 Million needed
- So…the school board goes to the state which says they will approve and help fund (thanks to the sales tax increase we gave them) $34,000 per student to build a new school. Sounds light, eh?
- $34,000 x 2500 = $85,000,000… so they really don’t even NEED GL’s money!
Yes – it would be in the 5 yr plan. Yes – delays have happened…but so have recessions. So have market collapses. And sure, they could happen again. It is possible. We are all playing it safe thanks to the trauma that was 2005-2008.
But since 2012, 6 new GL communities have been built! And new builders are building – Shea, Ryan, K Hovnanian, CalAtlantic, Meritage, etc… so the growth is obvious. We are getting enough new residents to substantiate the NEED for schools.
The School Board also knows what happens when the Canyons won’t have a school…like Odyssey. So since Somerset is NOT going to be anywhere near big enough to support the build, we will need it.
- Park Vista is full
- Palm Beach Central is Full
- The new school near Woodlands will be pulling those overflow kids from Lantana North to Lake Worth and will fill up FAST.
- Olympic Heights……… well….there are a lot of new all ages developments going up in West Boca and they will fill the seats in OHHS very soon.
- Boynton Community – they won’t even try so forget it, seriously forget it.
So what choice do they really have but to see that our area is HOT. From Hypoluxo to Canyon Springs down Lyons…I’m sure there will be 2500 kids for that school pretty quickly. For good measure, I’m sure they’ll try to include Greystone!
Can they retract? sure! But the idea is for us to get behind GL so they don’t.
Back to my earliest advice. COMPARTMENTALIZE
- The North Dakotas are happening. If they get the additional 170 homes nor not, it will be here and it will stress the area. There is no need to spend energy opposing it because homes WILL be built there starting in the next 2 years.
- GL is offering, at their expense, to improve our roads. Every day we see that people just can’t figure out how to navigate the congestion so why would widening be bad??
- We aren’t getting another Valencia in this area. I don’t care either way because it is more for me to sell…but many do! So chalk that up as a W if you care about that.
- Middle School is a done deal… don’t go backwards
- Swap – why would it be bad? we know what we’re getting and THIS AREA isn’t giving anything up. It is a drop in our bucket but benefits agriculture in our county.
- High School – this plan increases the odds. Back a winner. Going against the plan will likely leave us with nothing. So why not try to voice our support for the school? If GL is trying to get the school built – then why would we not want to work WITH them.
- Ag Reserve being dismantled. It is NOT true, but in all honestly…NO ONE bought in a growing area to live around farms and get sprayed by pesticides. NO ONE who followed zoning cases could believe that the Ag Reserve plan meant that we would live in farmland forever without any more new homes. The area was going to grow. This area was planned to grow. It won’t match Broward…and it won’t match Boca…but it will grow. It HAS to. Why wouldn’t other people want to share in our beautiful area of town??
- the Boca items simply do not matter. They’re Boca’s issue, not ours.
What can we do to support this?
Stop listening to those who oppose with false facts. Seems like this political climate is ripe with misinformation to begin with, so why would we expect local politics to be different??? So…those who are disseminating bad information should be ignored.
We need to be our own advocates. We need to advocate for our neighborhoods. We get lumped in with a bunch of other communities whose views and needs oppose ours! Why can’t we stop this? The meeting at Valencia Reserve was supposedly quite energetic. That crowd was pretty worked up in its opposition of ideas that would benefit us! And what worked them up was the same misinformation which we took into the meeting with GL and hopefully has been debunked. And this opposition is also the group that has kept our park on the back burner for years!
North Dakotas are happening…so why don’t we just get behind other ideas that will help us short and long term.
If we support it for one thing…just one….why wouldn’t we want to try to give ourselves at least a fighting chance for the high school??
note: I don’t work for GL Homes. I do sell some of their homes but they do speak for themselves and I don’t speak for them. I am just trying to keep an open mind to what’s going around. If they hadn’t grown the area and built Canyon Lakes, I wouldn’t have a chance to live in such a nice place!