GL Homes has been building in Palm Beach County over the past three decades. We are now proposing a plan that benefits the county as a whole. Our Agricultural Preservation Plan will increase farmland, preserve farming in the county and add significant public benefit.
We will set aside nearly 5,000 acres of preservation in The Acreage, where we are permitted to build approximately 3,900 homes. Instead, we are proposing to build homes on roughly 1,300 acres in the west Boynton Beach/Delray Beach area, where infrastructure and roadways already exist. This plan will result in nearly four times the preservation of farmland and preservation, and add significant community benefit to Boynton, Delray and west Boca Raton — including land and $10 million toward an elementary school and high school. The 5,000 acres set aside for preservation will include farmland and 640 acres for water storage to relieve flooding in The Acreage.
We want to set the record straight because some activists are making claims that we will “dismantle” and “ruin” the Agricultural Reserve. That’s simply false.
The Ag Reserve is well-planned, with roadways and infrastructure, a hospital, schools, shopping centers and dozens of existing communities. The Ag Reserve still has plenty of active farms and will always have active farming. In fact, the majority of land in the Ag Reserve is still in preservation or county-owned. That will not change. The facts show that our plan will increase the amount of farmland in Palm Beach County, at no cost to taxpayers.
County residents voted to spend more than $100 million from a bond issue. A portion was used to buy 2,530 acres in the Ag Reserve. Our proposal does not affect that publicly owned 2,530 acres, and our Agricultural Preservation Plan will preserve twice as much additional land, for free.
This will provide more locally grown food, support agriculture, strengthen the county’s economy and maintain the quality of life for residents.
Local farmers have said that the Acreage land is just as good as Ag Reserve land, and they produce just as many tomatoes, beans, sweet corn, sugar cane and other vegetables per acre as they grow in the Ag Reserve, near U.S. 441 and Florida’s Turnpike. So extra farming acreage from our Agricultural Preservation Plan means more locally grown produce. The Agricultural Preservation Plan is consistent with the county’s Master Plan objectives for the Ag Reserve, as well as the county’s goals to preserve farming.
KEVIN RATTERREE, WEST PALM BEACH
Editor’s note: Kevin Ratterree is a vice president of GL Homes.