Florida Coalition Opposes High-Density Redevelopment Plan

June 5, 2007

Opponents of the proposed plan to redevelop south Florida’s Briny Breezes firmly supported the strong critique of the Developer’s plan by Palm Beach County Planning Director Lorenzo Aghemo.

Former Congressman Tom Evans, Chairman of the Florida Coalition for Preservation, said the content of the report and its critical timing during the pending state review of the Briny Breezes redevelopment proposal should raise serious concerns about the plan at the state level.

“This is an expert, independent, third-party validation of the concerns expressed by the Coalition and by the hundreds of area residents who recently shared their concerns at the recent town-hall meeting regarding the Briny Breezes plan,” Evans said. “We are growing more hopeful that these developers – despite their very deep pockets – will find themselves unable to steamroll over the extraordinary community opposition to this project.”

In the County’s thorough and comprehensive review of the plan delivered to the Florida Department of Community Affairs, a key state agency regulating development, Planning Director Aghemo reflected many of the objections about the project expressed forcefully time and again by area residents.

“The scale, character and magnitude of the proposed project are out of character with the area and detrimental to the quality of life for the surrounding communities,” Aghemo said in the cover letter accompanying the report, which called into question the impact the project would have on hurricane evacuation, traffic, the environment and other quality-of-life components.

“The proposed increase in density to 40 to 60 units per acre is tremendous, and out of character with the surrounding incorporated and unincorporated area,” Aghemo said, adding for comparison that Ocean Ridge has a density of 3.36 units per acre, and Gulf Stream has 1.15. “Obviously, the proposed densities for the site (Briny Breezes) are radically higher than the area.”

The report also revealed that the Briny Breezes redevelopment plan will strain existing infrastructure and require costly upgrades that would be borne by neighboring taxpayers.

“The proposed redevelopment will require a much greater expenditure on behalf of the local governments providing these services. For example, there may be additional police officers and fire rescue needed with specialized equipment for mid to high-rise buildings than single story mobile homes, and the potable water & waste water demand is anticipated to increase approximately 300 percent,” Aghemo wrote in the report. “The town has not secured agreements with adjacent local governments to accommodate the expanded needs for public facilities and has not demonstrated that there is adequate capacity within the local governments to accommodate the increase in demand.”

Evans said, “The implication of the county’s report is that the developers are planning to extract profits out of Briny Breezes while leaving the taxpayers of adjacent communities to pick up the tab for essential services. That’s unacceptable, and this plan must be radically scaled back to ensure that existing infrastructure can accommodate new residents without jeopardizing the safety, security and quality of life of Briny’s neighbors.”

Source: Business Wire

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