A proposal by GL Homes threatens Palm Beach County preserve land and the Agricultural Reserve. For the past 30 years, Palm Beach County has worked to limit growth in the highly productive Agricultural Reserve west of Boynton Beach. While this area’s mild climate and specialized soil types make it ideal for farming, it also has faced intense development pressure. To allow farming and housing to coexist, hopefully in perpetuity, the County established strict rules requiring developments to set aside at least 60% of their acreage for preservation within the Reserve.
Facing the looming buildout of the Agricultural Reserve under current rules, GL Homes has resorted to changing the rules to allow more development. The latest scheme is the most outrageous yet and involves building thousands of homes on preserve land which has been protected by conservation easements in exchange for “preserving” land they own elsewhere in the County.
The problems with this proposal are significant. Adding thousands of new and unplanned for units into the Agricultural Reserve threatens the adjacent Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. It would overwhelm the region’s water and roadway infrastructure, and allowing land to be taken out of preservation undermines efforts to ensure that land that is preserved is protected in perpetuity. GL Homes’ proposal has not yet been formally submitted, but many individuals and groups, like the Coalition of Boynton West Residential Associations (COBWRA) have already taken a stand to oppose it. To learn more and take action to oppose this destructive plan, check out http://www.cobwra.org/