Land near Four Seasons development that had been farmed for years is now zoned for light industry.
By Mike Diamond
Special to The Post
County commissioners voted 7-0 Thursday to approve a controversial zoning change that will permit industrial development within 50 feet of the west of Delray Beach residential development of Four Seasons.
Arthur Goldzweig, president of the homeowners association, called the decision disappointing.
Residents of the 315-unit development at State Road 7 and West Atlantic Avenue have argued for months that rezoning the land from agricultural to light industrial just to the south of their development will decimate property values and destroy their quality of life. The developer has not said what will be built, and that scares the residents. Plans will be submitted at a later date.
While the commissioners said they had compassion for residents, they also noted the property owner was within his rights to obtain the change. Commissioner Robert Weinroth said the Four Seasons residents have themselves to blame if property values decline for failing to realize the property had a “future land use” designation of “light industrial” long before the homeowners purchased their homes from 2004 to 2011.
John Young, president of Southeast Investments of PBC, told the commissioners that the land has been used as a farm since 1980 but the intention was always to develop the property. Young’s agent, Lauren McClellan, said it is not her client’s fault that Four Seasons’ residents did not do “their due diligence.”
Commissioner Gregg Weiss, though, acknowledged that the county’s zoning classifications are confusing and he understood why residents thought the 13-acre tract was limited to farming. While it was zoned agricultural, it was tagged with a light industrial land use more than 20 years ago. That means the county wanted to eventually see industry come to West Atlantic Avenue between Lyons Road and State Road 7 and was likely to approve a zoning change. What they never envisioned was residential development in the area as well.
It is that future land-use designation that Four Seasons residents said they did not know about. Area Realtor Jim Knight told the commission Thursday that residential developers should disclose all zoning designations to avoid problems.
County commissioners voted to postpone consideration of the issue last month to see whether the property owner and Four Seasons could resolve their differences. But Four Seasons lawyer Ellyn Bogdanoff of Fort Lauderdale said the applicant was in no mood to compromise.
Bogdanoff said the presence of the coronavirus has prevented the commission from seeing the extent of opposition to the rezoning change as so many people are fearful of attending a hearing. She urged the commission to again postpone the hearing. But Mayor Dave Kerner said the property owner has a right to have the request resolved on a timely basis.
The property owner agreed to two new conditions sought by county planners; it will not allow a solid waste transfer station or an electrical power plant to be built.
County planners supported the zoning change, noting that they imposed a number of conditions. There must be 50-foot buffers, additional landscaping and a six-foot wall. Depending on what is built, setbacks could be extended to 150 feet.
And Young’s agent agreed, at Weiss’ urging, to consider building a drainage basin at the north end of the property to provide for an even greater buffer.
But Goldzweig said there are still too many permitted uses that will harm the quality of life at Four Seasons, a gated 55+ community where homes sell for up to $650,000.
Among the possibilities are a composting facility, a contractor storage yard, a heavy repair maintenance operation, a towing and storage facility and a welding shop. As long as the industrial development is less than 100,000 square feet, there will be no public hearing. The plans can be approved administratively, one of Four Seasons’ major concerns.
McClellan said that she expects whatever is built will involve more than 100,000 square feet, triggering the public hearing that Four Seasons wants.
“Let them at least tell you what they are going to put on the property before you approve this zoning change,” Bogdanoff urged. Goldzweig noted that the commission showed compassion and has pushed back recently on a number of developments.
“They do not seem to have that compassion for people who live at the Four Seasons.
“If there were going to allow industry on West Atlantic Avenue, they never should have approved the Four Seasons development,” he told The Post. “It is lunacy to have residential and industrial abut each other. They are not compatible.”
Email Mike Diamond at email@example.com