Loxahatchee Groves residents got their first look at a developer’s preliminary plans to bring a gas station, bank and grocery store to a vacant piece of land on the outskirts of town.
The development for the northeast corner of South B Road and Southern Boulevard would include a Wawa, Chase Bank and Aldi.
The land is owned by the Jacobs family, a prominent equestrian presence in Wellington whose patriarch, Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, is ranked by Forbes as one of the 500 richest people in the world.
About five acres of the 90-acre piece of land would be used for the development, a representative for the project told the town’s Roadways, Equestrian Trails and Greenways Advisory Committee during a lengthy discussion Thursday.
Scott Backman of Brightwork Real Estate, which is under contract to buy the five-acre slice of land from the Jacobs family, in his presentation referred to the Grove Town Center master plan approved for the 90 acres in 2013 by the town council.
“It was contemplated that commercial development would be on this corner,” he told the committee, adding that the land has the appropriate zoning and land use for a gas station, bank and grocery store.
The developers are requesting a revision to the planned-unit development master plan to reshape the plot of land, which is where the Wawa, Chase Bank and Aldi would be located, to make it more of a rectangle as opposed to a square. That reshaping was prompted by Florida Department of Transportation input that says an approved access point needs to be farther east from the intersection of Southern Boulevard and South B Road.
Committee members expressed concern that equestrian trails are not included in the proposed site plan for the smaller development. But Backman said the site plan for the trails will be submitted by the Jacobs family separately and concurrently with Brightwork’s application.
The committee also questioned how the developer would minimize the light from the 24-hour operations of the Wawa, questioning the size of a buffer and how much light will reach the neighboring property to the north.
Backman and Loxahatchee Groves’ planning consultant Jim Fleischmann noted the town’s code requires lighting to not reach beyond the property line, and lighting must be directed away from any property that is zoned agricultural.
“That’s going to be a requirement per our code and that’s going to be a condition of approval in their site plan approval,” Fleischmann said.
Backman noted that in its own planning, Wawa takes steps to minimize lighting. “They are not your typical gas station,” he said, noting that “about 60 percent” of the inside of the building is dedicated to Wawa’s fast-casual restaurant.
A Wawa spokesman said the company has a “long tradition of addressing and listening to the concerns of the community.”
“In every community we serve we attempt to provide enhancements and natural barriers, such as trees and shrubs in order to block light and absorb noise,” spokeswoman Lori Bruce said via email. “We believe we will enhance the area and look forward to continuing our planning.”
The committee voted to make several recommendations to the town council, including adding a second left turn lane from southbound B Road onto eastbound Southern.
The conceptual plans presented in the preliminary review Thursday still must be finalized, then the developer will make a formal application to the town. That will happen most likely in February or March, said Town Clerk Virginia Walton. Then the plans will go before the town’s Planning and Zoning Committee before heading to the Town Council for final approval.