Special interests clash over Ag Reserve

Monday's roundtable debate
Monday's roundtable debate

A recent roundtable debate on the future of the Agricultural Reserve produced a lot of disagreement, but also one unanimous goal: the continued support of agriculture in the 22,000-acre reserve.

Proposals to increase residential and commercial development in the reserve divided the 30 participants, according to the Palm Beach Post.

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“I want my property rights restored,’’ audience member Melissa McKeown said at one point. She said her family can barely use their land because of development restrictions created to preserve farmland.

Others, like Pamela Martens of the Audubon Society, characterized the meeting “an outrageous land-grab effort by development interests.’’ Martens said the meeting’s goal is “ to allow GL homes to build more gated communities on the most productive farming soils in Palm Beach County.’’

The participants represented a broad spectrum of interests, from farmers and developers to environmentalists and citizens groups. And another round table is planned for later this year or early next year before proposals are considered by the County Commission. [Palm Beach Post]Christopher Cameron