A 13-acre vacant parcel west of Boca Raton could be turned into an adult living facility and a children’s daycare, proposals that are alarming nearby residents worried about traffic and noise.
This isn’t just another neighborhood tiff, however. The proposed zoning change could have far-reaching effects, possibly paving the way for more dense development of the Agriculture Reserve.
The Ag Reserve is a 22,000-acre farming and conservation zone west of Boca Raton, Delray Beach and Boynton Beach. Building in the reserve has been limited by strict county rules, but the reserve has been under increasing development pressure.
Now comes a proposal by an affiliate of St. Louis-based Allegro Senior Living and property owner Alan D. Simon to build a 151-unit, 223-bed rental adult living facility on the north side of Clint Moore Road, just west of Florida’s Turnpike. The Allegro facility will feature independent and assisted living, plus memory care. Allegro operates facilities in Boynton Beach and Jupiter.
Adjacent to the 175,000-square-foot development, a daycare for 240 children also is proposed. Simon is chief executive of Alternative Educational Systems, which owns the Randazzo School in Coconut Creek.
A meeting before a county planning agency is set for Friday, Oct. 13, in West Palm Beach, but the decision is not binding. The county commission is set to vote Oct. 30 to establish a congregate living residential land use designation on this site greater in density than currently allowed in the Ag Reserve. The county staff recommended against this action, but the commission does not have to abide by staff recommendations.
The county vote could set the standard for future development of Ag Reserve land into similar facilities.
Some residents living in upscale communities along Clint Moore Road are against the Allegro/Simon project. “It doesn’t belong there. It’s too dense. And Clint Moore Road already is jam-packed at rush hour,” said Richard Salter, a resident of the nearby Horshoe Acres community.
Months ago, when this project first became known, a group of residents from the Horseshoe Acres, Long Lake Estates, St. Andrews Country Club and Woodfield Country Club communities began meeting to organize opposition.
They informally dubbed themselves the “Clint Moore Four,” a takeoff on the The Chicago Seven, the political radicals accused of conspiring to incite riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.
These Palm Beach County residents are decidedly more mainstream, however. They settled on creating a coalition and a website, www.clintmoorewest.com, that is helping organize resident opposition to the plan.
They point to county staff traffic studies showing daily car trips could rise to 2,777 if these projects are approved.
But Alan Ciklin, a West Palm Beach attorney representing Allegro, said that figure represents the use of that site as if it were a hospital. In reality, Ciklin said traffic will be low because the Allegro residents won’t drive.
Salter disagreed, noting the facility would require staff and nursing around the clock, as well as commercial trucks delivering goods. In addition, ambulance visits will be frequent, he said.
Ciklin said the land never was intended to remain a pristine, empty field. In fact, in 2005, Simon obtained zoning permission to build a 500-student elementary school and a 240-student daycare. But the school and daycare never were built.
Ciklin said the proposed developments will generate an extra 1,007 trips per day, versus more than 1,600 if the school were built.
“The real nitty gritty is: Do you want a 740-student school, or do you want a CLF and a daycare?” Ciklin said. “The CLF/daycare is less impactful than the school, no matter how you slice it.”
Not everyone agrees. In a letter to county officials, lawyer Mark Gold, who is building an 8,000-square-foot home just west of the proposed project, called the Allegro plan “a monstrosity.”
Gold, founder of The Ticket Clinic, said the proposal would hurt property values: “If I wanted traffic jams and multi-family housing, I would have moved to east Boca!”