Controversial Boca Raton Golf Course Project Pushed Back Again

Categories: Broward News

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TSgt Rachel Martinez via wikimedia commons
For nearly the last decade, residents up near Boca Raton's Mizner Trail golf course have been fighting a developer's efforts to throw up residential units on a 130-acre swath of green space. These are not your usual NIMBY complaints -- preliminary tests show the ground is possibly soaked through with harsh chemicals, and any type of construction could threaten the ecological health of the area.

Despite that, within the last six months, the city has reversed its previous decision on the matter and pushed through the project. Last night, county commissioners were supposed to vote on the matter. But it looks like the fight will just continue.

Last night commissioners decided to push back a final vote until June, according to the Sun Sentinel. The hope is that a compromise between the developer Compson Mizner Trail Inc. and residents in opposition can be worked out in the interim. Considering how long this tug of war has been going on, that would be a shocker.

There have been multiple attempts, mainly in 2006 and 2011, to get a residential development greenlit on the golf course, which closed down in 2005. Both projects were shot down after residents pushed back and the county eventually rejected the proposals.

But the main concern for residents is a 2011 screening of the property by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP). The report suggests that the ground isn't exactly clean:

Sampling activities documented low levels of metals, VOCs, pesticides and dioxin, well below regulatory limits, on neighboring residential properties north of the canal. In contrast, sampling activities, conducted south of the canal, revealed arsenic contamination in soil at multiple locations at concentrations that were above the Florida SCTL for direct exposure in residential settings but below the SCTL for industrial use.

While the golf course land is being used as greenspace, it would not be considered residential use, but the condominium property is residential use. And the samples (both surface and subsurface soil) collected on condominium property, within 200 feet of the occupied condominium dwelling, did exceed the applicable residential use SCTLs for arsenic. Further sampling in this area is recommended to see if this is widespread or an isolated occurrence.

Uh, arsenic?

This study was limited and no ground water samples were collected, but above-background arsenic concentrations detected in surface and subsurface soil samples, suggests that concomitant ground water contamination is possible. If the concentration is high enough and it migrates to drinking water supply wells this could be a concern.

Uh, drinking water?

So you can see why the residents are a little upset about the idea of construction tearing up the land at Mizner without at least performing the follow-up tests suggested by the EPA. In the last six months, county commissioners have nudged both sides toward an agreement. The developer has knocked some units off the project; the residents have offered to buy the land for $1 million.

Neither side seemed interested in the offer. We'll see if the next two months thaw either.

(h/t Chaz Stevens)

Send your story tips to the author, Kyle Swenson.





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7 comments
smartersean
smartersean

A world class Disc Golf course would be PERFECT!

harvk5
harvk5

There are multiple reasons to object to the development of the property.  


1.  It effects and affects all who go from east to west or west to east using Palmetto, 18th Street or Cameno road. Ditto those using military trail and power line.  Reason is increased traffic.


2.  The killing off of green space for the benefit of one person.  Green space is a precious commodity.


3.  Impact on land values of those who own land in the area.  The middle class has been stripped of their investments and now a developer wants to take the value of their land - which was theoretically protected when they purchased the property.


4.  Loss of the watershed the golf course provides and this loss will result in flooding of homes and roadways.


5.  Impact on local schools - who will pay for increased enrollment?  Surely, not the developer.


6.  The simple reason that there is no need for more housing but a need for more open space.  


Lastly, the folks who live here don't want it!



BocaJoe
BocaJoe

EPA report is a diversion.


the real issue is traffic, and the commitment when the golfcourse was build and the surrounding houses were sold, that the golf course would remain a golf course, and NO OTHER PURPOSE.


the developer bought the golf course, THEN closed it.  with the plan to rezone the area and make huge profits.


Well the homeowners would be screwed in that deal.  they should receive some compensation for diminished land value, since they bought a house on a golfcourse, but the developer purchased then  close the course, with the intent to rezone and make a profit.


current home owners are entitled to some of that profit.  or just do what was in the original land use contract.  keep it a golf course.


-Or, make it a public green space park. -bike, hike, walk..


developer is just out to make money on the rezoning of something it was never intended to be.


the only issue is how much money they can funnel to the zoning officials to get the go ahead vote.


-Watch this one, because it can happen to you, if it happens to us.



ChazStevensGenius
ChazStevensGenius

@BocaJoe Did you read the DEP report?  I did... 


There's a ton of very harsh chemicals, cancer causing chemicals, in the soil.


That's a diversion?

bocaJoe
bocaJoe

@ChazStevensGenius @BocaJoe


the reason for objections are not EPA related. so yes the EPA report is convenient. 

the sited report above list arsenic as the only chemical above epa limits..  was that ever used to kill weeds?    

if in fact there are 'tons' of harsh chemicals, don't they need to be removed anyway?  whats to stop them from leaching into ground water without remediation. 

fwiw, I'm in boca del mar, and have been getting  emails for around 2 years on this.  This is the 1st I have ever head of the chemicals in the soil.


Regardless, its now an issue to be dealt with.  -no matter who put the chemicals in there  ;)



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