PB County to review land-use rules for farming zone

Part of the Agricultural Reserve in Palm Beach County (Credit: Boca Raton magazine)
Part of the Agricultural Reserve in Palm Beach County (Credit: Boca Raton magazine)

The Palm Beach County Commission will consider land-use rule changes for the county’s Agricultural Reserve, a 22,000-acre farming zone west of Boynton Beach and Delray Beach.

At their  January 27 meeting, county commissioners will consider requests from three owners of property in the reserve to loosen land-use rules that limit development in the 22,000-acre zone.

County commissioners also will review a land-use plan that amends the so-called 60-40 rule, which requires developers of land in the Agricultural Reserve to set aside six acres for preservation for every four acres they develop.

County staff wrote a land-use plan that would allow developers to set aside less than 40 percent of a project site for preservation if the development included affordable housing.

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The Palm Beach County Planning Commission last week approved requests to loosen the land-use rules in the Agricultural Reserve from farmer Jim Alderman, nursery owners Steve and Rose Homrich, and Delray Growers’ owner Melissa McKeown. The planning commission advises the county commission.

They told the planning commission their land in the Agricultural Reserve is surrounded by commercial and industrial businesses incompatible with agriculture, but the 60-40 rule makes commercial development of their land too expensive.

Lisa Interlandi, senior attorney for the Everglades Law Center, told the planning commission that the requests by the land owners would amount to “a huge rewrite of the Ag Reserve policies,” and would encourage other owners of land in the reserve to make similar requests.

“If you take that out, all you do is provide a benefit to private property owners with no public benefit,” Interlandi said. [Palm Beach Post] — Mike Seemuth