Sunday, April 19, 2015

Traffic Congestion

Traffic congestion is going to continue to be an issue as long as the city leaders blindly approve development based upon flawed traffic studies.  The blind eye concerns the fact that the generally accepted traffic studies do not include the impact of bridge openings nor the traffic impacts from train crossing closings.  This may explain why traffic heading westbound at Palmetto Park Rd. or Yamato Rd. backs up onto I-95 when the TriRail train travels through the area.  This appears to be more impactful at the Yamato Rd. area as traffic backs up well onto the overpass approaching the westbound exit ramp during the morning peak travel periods.  This area is NOT expected to be improved with the changes in the intersection/addition of the Spanish River exit since these commuters are heading to businesses located in the business area of the Arivda Park of Commerce and the old IBM office complex, since renamed multiple times as more and more offices were leased and released.

It appears that it will take another election in order to change the makeup of city council so that residents can find accountability in their future leaders.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Development Approvals Have Finally Expired!

FINALLY, impacted residents in the Boca Teeca community must be pleased that the 12/11/07 development approvals & rezoning has expired effective 4/12/15.  The representatives of the MCZ Centrum development'a LLC were overzealous, to say the least, as they courted the senior citizens within the Boca Teeca community for 2 years with promises of a little more than $200/unit in exchange for their "assistance" in obtaining non-notarized signatures on consent forms to amend the deed restriction on a portion of the 200+ acre golf course surrounding the community. These developer representatives transported these senior citizens to the city meetings on the issue after providing complimentary food & drink, but when they could no longer fulfill their promises financially, the developers closed shop and abandoned the residents. 

Over a 7 year period many of the senior citizen supporters of this development have passed away or moved to nursing homes or closer to family during their final years.  Were these senior citizens unduly influenced by developer representatives in order to obtain their cooperation?

Over the past 7 years many of these long-time Boca Teeca residents who supported the past development have been replaced by a much younger demographic which often were unaware of the pending development on the country club property.  Many of these residents were unaware of the low $200/unit compensation that was accepted by their condo boards in exchange for throwing their neighbors under the bus driven by the now departed condo leaders.  These new residents are expected to be more long-term oriented and are not expected to be easily influenced by developers with promises of grandeur, as they realize that a potential for a 4-lane highway (NW 2nd Ave.) through their community will result in a significant decline in the residential nature of the community.

It is time for all residents in the Boca Teeca community to stand together regardless of what Wells Fargo bank decides to do with the property once the 5+ year foreclosure is finalized.  By standing together the residents should be influential in persuading the bank and the eventual buyers of the property to realize that over 2,000 residents are not going to be cooperative in making any changes that are detrimental to any portion of the Boca Teeca community, that is, operate a golf course and hotel as was originally intended and approved by the city when the Boca Teeca community was created.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Park vs. Restaurant? at Old Wildflower Property

Tonight's P&Z meeting sounded like a group of members of the Save Boca Raton Green Space organization as this tag line "Save Boca Raton Green Space" was touted by multiple speakers in opposition to the approved rezoning of the property located at the Intracoastal and Palmetto Park Rd.  Several residents stated that this property was acquired several years ago by the city after the residents supported the expansion of the Silver Palm Park by acquiring the property. 

But, tonight's P&Z meeting appears to be paving the way for city leaders to ignore the swelling residential opposition to a restaurant at this location.  Some residents do not believe that the city should be subsidizing a private restaurant business, nor should the city be involved as a landlord per their proposed leasing of the land to the owner of a Houston's restaurant.

A primary concern of residents was traffic in the area of Palmetto Park Rd. & 5th Ave. which is already congested, yet the city staff did not seem too concerned about the additional 7,000+ trips/day that could potentially impact the area due to the rezoning.  The city staff & traffic engineer noted that the city traffic studies go by the book, but this book does not take into account real world situations, such as bridge or railroad closings in the area. 

Yes, that is right, approved traffic studies do not take into account the opening of the bridges over the intracoastal, nor do traffic studies consider the closing of railroad crossings.  This is certainly applicable to the area near the old Wildflower site, BUT this is an even larger issue as the city is expected to support the All Aboard Florida expansion that one day "could" add a stop in downtown Boca Raton.  In exchange for a rail station the city is ready to further snarl traffic with the over 30 additional trains running through the city which will not be considered in traffic studies on future development.

Obviously this meeting transcript helps to clarify why the city of Boca Raton is looking similar to the gridlock in Miami and Ft. Lauderdale, that is, poor traffic planning due to purposely ignoring real world impacts on traffic in our community - Shame on City Staff for Not Being Forthright In Their Traffic Presentations!

Friday, April 3, 2015

Cancelled / P&Z meeting #4 on Ocean. Breeze Extension

The P&Z meeting on 4/9 has been cancelled but it has not been determined if the city  will continue with their loophole position on the expiration date of 4/12/15.  While the public comments  have focused on the county traffic dept. approving an  extension to only 12/31/15 the city traffic engineers have issued a scathing report with 8 significant concerns, including the requirement for a double left turn lane on NW 2nd Ave. for westbound traffic on Jeffrey St./Clint Moore Rd.   Is this a precursor to a 4-lane widening of NW 2nd Ave. through the boca teeca community?

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

4-Lane NW 2nd Ave. Coming to Boca Teeca?

Is the widening of NW 2nd Ave. in the Boca Teeca area coming after the city approval of the 2007 development on a portion of the golf course?

Of course the city has stated that the widening of this central roadway in this residential area is not on the official plans for city traffic, BUT with the increasing traffic creating a safety hazard for emergency vehicles it will be easy for the city to justify the widening of the road in the near future.  After all, what would residents rather have, a friend or family member at risk during a health emergency due to the inability of the paramedics to be able to reach them due to the traffic backups on NW 2nd Ave.  This is an easy justification for the city to widen this road since the condo residents did support the additional 200+ units to be constructed in the area so the residents must expect these additional trips will result in a more hazardous roadway that must be addressed for their own safety.

If you are concerned about traffic in Boca Teeca & Boca Raton, then let your city leaders know - see the contact information at the attached link:

Monday, March 30, 2015

Environmental Update/Arsenic on Ocean Breeze Property

The most recent environmental consultant reports submitted to the FDEP (Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection) indicates that the arsenic levels in the ground water near the current maintenance facility has not been declining over the past 2 years of required quarterly testing.  The 2 "hot spots" in the area have consistently been tested at 200-300 ppb (parts per billion) as compared to the FDEP approved levels of 10 ppb.  These "hot spots" are 20-30 times the acceptable levels and under the current monitoring program the FDEP has indicated that this site is not suitable for residential development.

Should a developer desire to build on this specific area of the south golf course, then the arsenic levels in the groundwater would be required to be reduced and there would normally be a process for requesting a deed restriction and this process normally takes more than 1 year.  With this type of major problem looming over the development site, how could the developer overcome these issues and maintain the previously approved site plan which lists residential development on this contaminated land.

The most recent quarterly samples were taken last week from the required sites on the property with the expected report with these results to be submitted to the FDEP by May 20th. 

It is certainly not very responsible of the City staff to recommend an extension of a development approval on a site that is clearly not safe for residential development.

Behind the Scenes - Again?

What is really going on at city hall regarding the extension of the troubled Ocean Breeze golf course property?  This was a major rezoning and change of deed restrictions to get a portion of the golf course approved for a 211 unit development, BUT there seems to be more going on behind the scenes at city hall since things to not add up to a simple processing of an extension of this development.

The traffic report that was submitted under the most recent extension request was titled for LENNAR, but both the city traffic engineers and the county traffic staff were not supportive of this latest report.  The last time there were problems with the traffic engineering report the developer contacted the city staff about a "donation" to the city after reviewing the scathing report.  Not surprisingly the city negotiated a $6 million "donation" to the city during the original approval process in 2007.  Is the city trying to negotiate an increase in the price tag, OR are there other motivations for their apparent agreeing to ignore the established deadline for the development approval on 4/12/15?

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Ocean Breeze/Boca Teeca Update

There has been a lot going on recently with the pending expiration on 4/12/15 of the development approvals from 12/11/07 on the Boca Teeca/Ocean Breeze golf course property.  A few months ago local development attorney Mitch Kirschner submitted yet another extension request on the development approvals and he appears to be getting a favorable greeting from the city leaders who appear to be bending the rules in order to approve this request for an 18 month extension.  On 4/9/15 there will be a 4th hearing at the P&Z board for considering this request which was not heard during the past 3 meetings due to "traffic issues". DUH - of course there are traffic issues as the 2-lane NW 2nd avenue area is already so congested that adding more traffic is a health and safety hazard for the residential community in this area.

Last week also marked the 5th anniversary of the foreclosure that was filed by Wells Fargo bank on the original developer, MCZ Centrum Flordia V Owner, LLC.  The bank had loaned $7 million for the purchase of the property (essentially a 100% loan/zero equity by the developer).  As the developer took a few year to negotiate "financial incentives" with nearby condo commandos the loan came due and there were extensions of the loan granted after the principals of MCZ Centrum personally guaranteed the loan.  The recent loan balance has grown to almost $14 million based upon foreclosure documents.

The environmental issues are still being managed after the FL Dept of Environmental Protection (FDEP) has required continued monitoring of the ground water in multiple areas near the current maintenance facility.  This area was approved for residential development in 2007 by the city of Boca Raton without requiring any environmental testing of the soil or groundwater.  Subsequently the EPA & FDEP tested the soil and the water on the area near the maintenance facility which resulted in a report that stated that the property was not suitable for residential nor industrial use due to the contaminants on the property.  The most recent report on the property was during the 4th quarter of 2014 and there was still arsenic levels in the ground water that was over 2000% of the allowed parts per billion (ppb) allowed by the EPA.  Arsenic is a hazardous chemical that has been determined to be a cause of cancer so the EPA closely regulates the allowed ppm for safety of the citizens.

Meanwhile, the receiver continues to operate the golf course with over 70,000 golfers using the only 27 hole championship level facility within the city limits of Boca Raton.  Considering the city paid over $7 million for 2.25 acres of land known as the Wildflower property for an undetermined use, may the city should consider buying the golf course of over 200 acres which is expected to be a much larger draw to the city than another restaurant/proposed for the 2.25 acre site.