The City Council is considering eliminating at least two permitted uses — child care centers and libraries — for a mixed-use development office zoning district that runs on about 27 acres along Jog Road between 10th Avenue North and Lake Worth Road.
Greenacres already has one library and is home to eight day care centers, all of which are within less than 5 miles of each other.
The issue of re-examining the zoning district, created in 1999 for a variety of residential housing and professional offices and to keep Jog Road from becoming a retail strip like what exists on Military Trail, came to a head when the council last month approved plans to build Kingswood Academy, a 10,000-square-foot day care center on the west side of South Jog Road.
Several residents spoke against the center, saying they were concerned about traffic and noise.
Councilman Peter Noble, who lives in Park Pointe, a senior condo community adjacent to the proposed center, was one of the most vocal members against the new center.
“There’s a danger and life-threatening aspect of this project,” he said at the Oct. 7 meeting.
It was Noble who spearheaded last week’s council discussion about making a formal change to the zoning code language by eliminating some of the permitted uses in that district.
“The original intent was to have small businesses and a little bit of retail that would be favorable to the community and fit in and wouldn’t generate the type of traffic a day care center does,” Noble said. “Now we’re jeopardizing the intention of the district.”
Mayor Samuel Ferreri disagreed.
“I think day care centers are great uses for that zoning category,” he said. “They’re closed at night. They’re closed on weekends and holidays. There could be a lot more intensive uses than a day care center.”
Noble said he wanted to remove all special-exception uses, which include, child care centers, libraries, government services buildings, public and private utility service structures, houses of worship, private clubs and off-street parking lots.
Some of the permitted uses are single-family dwellings, two-family dwellings, medical and dental offices, banks and travel agencies.
Councilman Jonathan Pearce said he preferred seeing churches and libraries eliminated.
“I want something there that pays taxes, brings something to the community,” he said.
Ferreri said banning churches in that zoning district would not be wise.
“You need those kinds of institutions in a community,” he said.
Pearce said he liked the mix of offices, stores and retail shops near Wellington Regional Medical Center on State Road 7 and would like to see the city’s mixed-use development office zoning district mirror that area.
“They’ve been pretty successful up there,” Pearce said.
The city said eight sites have received site-plan approval for various allowable uses, including a child care center, a church, professional offices, mixed offices and residential projects. To date, only one day care center and one professional office have been built.
At Monday’s meeting, staff sought direction from the City Council on what it should bring back to them as part of a formal change to the zoning code language. No uses were eliminated. Any potential change would have to be researched and reviewed and there would also need to be public hearings before any changes can be made.
Planning and Engineering Director Thomas Lanahan said that will take a few months.
As for the one day care center that is already operating in the district, if the council decides to eliminate child care as an allowable use, that center — Bright Beginnings of Lake Worth — will become a legal “nonconforming” use, but the center would not be able to expand or re-open if it closes.