The county zoning commission unanimously approved revised plans for an industrial-commercial project that will abut the Dakota Homes development west of Delray Beach despite strong opposition from area residents who fear the project will decimate their property values and destroy their quality of life.
Resident after resident told the zoning board they never would have bought in the 387-unit GL Homes development, currently under construction, had they known that the land adjacent to them was zoned industrial. Some of the homeowners paid as much as $600,000 for their homes.
“We knew something was going to be built there but not an industrial park,” said Monica Belisle, whose home on Salty Bay Drive is about 250 feet from the project.
At issue is whether West Delray Collision can move its operations across the street to a 10-acre site on the south side of Atlantic Avenue about .2 miles east of State Road 7. The 164,000-square foot project also calls for a 35-foot tall self-storage facility, a car wash, two warehouse buildings and a tire repair facility.
The Board of County Commissioners will decide the fate of the project Thursday, Aug. 22.
The Zoning Commission forced West Delray Collision to revise its plans so that its operations were farther away from Dakota Homes after residents pleaded for help at a July meeting. The revisions include:
- Increasing the setback from 100 feet to 170 feet.
- Increasing the buffer to 50 feet.
- Reducing the size of the self-storage facility by 12,000 square feet.
- Adding a second canopy of trees.
- Building a 50-foot wall on the east side of the property next to Our Lady Queen of Peace Church.
- Moving the dumpster from West Delray Collision farther away from Dakota.
But the concessions did nothing to appease the residents.
“It’s like dying by cyanide or electrocution,” he said. “We feel like we are being bulldozed,” said Boca Raton cardiologist Steven Pollack, who like Belisle also lives on Salty Bay Drive:
Pollack and others claim traffic congestion is a nightmare on Atlantic Avenue, which is only one lane in each direction. The state has plans to widen the heavily traveled highway but that project is not expected to start until sometime in 2022 and may take two or more years to complete.
It is a big mistake to put more traffic on Atlantic Avenue before it is widened, he said, noting that people may not get to nearby hospitals in time for treatment because of the traffic congestion.
“Moving the auto repair operation 70 feet away won’t make a difference,” said Matthew Belisle.
He was concerned with the 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. operations Monday to Saturday as well as noise issues.
“This is fundamentally unfair,” Belisle said. “It will financially ruin us.”
But Greg DiMaria, the owner of West Delray Collision, said he is trying to be as neighborly as he can be. As for noise, he said all of the auto-body repair work will be done inside a concrete building.
The vacant land, which is in the Ag Reserve, had been zoned agricultural-residential but in 2017, at around the time GL began selling homes at Dakota, the county approved a zoning change to light industrial.
Donald Bryan said his family has owned the land for more than 50 years. He said future land use maps have designated the parcel as industrial ever since 1980.
“This property has right to be developed based on property rights,” Bryan said. “What is fair is fair.”
The opposition to the project is intense. Zoning staff received 66 comments in opposition; only 1 comment in support. Petitions with more than 515 signatures opposing the project were presented to the zoning board from parishioners at the nearby church and an on-line petition from 231 Dakota Homes’ residents.
Four Seasons HOA President Art Goldzweig testified against the project in July. He told The Post on that he was disappointed with the zoning commissioners. He said he can’t understand how the board could ignore the outcry of the residents and the parishioners of Our Lady Queen of Peace.
“This is shameful behavior,” Goldzweig said. “They should all resign.”
He was also disappointed with Alliance of Delray Residential Associations for supporting the project as long the concessions were made. This is not a project that the association should be supporting, he noted.
Source: Palm Beach Post