The developer whose plan to convert the Burt Reynolds Ranch into 62 homes drew the ire of Jupiter Farms residents is dropping the number to 30 and asking for more time to complete the sale.
The school board, which bought the 153-acre ranch on Jupiter Farms Road from the legendary actor in 1999 with the hopes of someday building a middle school, voted 5-2 in April to sell it to New Jersey-based K. Hovnanian Homes for $5 million with a closing date of Dec. 11.
But the school board is scheduled to vote next week on a request by Hovnanian to extend that closing date until November 2014. The move, according to a district staff report, would give the builder more time to obtain development approvals from Palm Beach County planners.
In exchange, Hovnanian has agreed to pay the school district $20,000 in rent per month from Dec. 11 until the new closing date. That could net the capital improvement funding-strapped school district an extra $200,000 or more.
In April, when Hovnanian first negotiated the sale, vice president of land acquisition Stephen Liller said the developer wanted to build 62 homes, or about one for every 2.5 acres.
Lois Taylor, a Jupiter Farms resident, objected. She brought letters from several other residents to the school board asking them not to sell to Hovnanian, arguing that 62 homes was too dense and not allowed by county rules.
Rebecca Caldwell, the county’s planning and zoning director, said the land is zoned for one home per 10 acres, or about 15 homes. The most it could ever be zoned for under existing rural land use rules in the county is 30 homes, Caldwell said.
According to the school district report, after meeting with Jupiter Farms residents and county planners, Hovnanian has agreed to reduce the number of units to 30, the maximum allowed under existing rules. Liller did not respond to numerous requests for comment.
But Taylor said 30 homes is still too dense for Jupiter Farms. She said residents will continue to object and ask the county to limit the project to 15 homes, as currently allowed.
“What they want still requires at least doubling the density currently allowed,” Taylor said. “I don’t think a lot of people will view that favorably.”
County Chief Planner Pat Rutter said Hovnanian has not submitted any applications but has until Aug. 2 to file.