The village council Thursday night is scheduled to vote on whether to change the land-use designation for the site of the old wastewater treatment plant on Crestwood Boulevard from utility to single family so the village can eventually give residents what they want there — a new neighborhood.
The 151-acre site, once the home of the former water treatment plant the village sold to Palm Beach County for $73 million in 2006, can accommodate up to 302 homes, said Bradford O’Brien, the village’s Planning & Zoning Commission Administrator.
The village is recommending the council allow staff to explore the possibility of changing the land-use designation. O’Brien said single-family land use designation is generally considered a low intensity land use when compared with industrial general land use.
O’Brien added that single-family use is also consistent with the existing land development pattern in the area. Madison Green, Saratoga Pines and Huntington Woods are some of the neighborhoods in the vicinity.
If the council approves the switch, O’Brien said the official change can happen in four or five months.
For the past several years, the site has been a hot topic in the village. Former Village Manager David Farber wanted to develop the property as a multi-use site for businesses and perhaps a school.
Councilman Richard Valuntas said at the time he supported that idea.
“I thought it would maximize the value of the property,” he said.
If the site had been developed that way, Valuntas said the village would’ve had the potential to attract a “satellite” college campus to the area, much like Loxahatchee Groves has done with Palm Beach State College.
But residents shot down the idea of putting businesses at the site, saying they preferred to be surrounded by more homes.
“Why contemplate putting commercial back there?” Councilman Fred Pinto said a few days before the March 12 election. “Citizens have made it clear to me they don’t want to see commercial. They want to see compatible housing.”
If the land-use change is made, O’Brien said village code requires that some kind of “recreational” component must be part of the development.
Councilman Jeff Hmara said he expects the council to approve the change.
“I see no reason to expect any great difficulty in doing that,” he said. “The consensus (among residents) is that the best use of the land is residential.”