The Town of Palm Beach has sent a letter to the Florida State Land Planning Agency objecting to the City of West Palm Beach Comprehensive Plan Amendment for the Okeechobee Business District.
West Palm is proposing the new district to encourage business and allow construction of large buildings around Okeechobee Blvd. in downtown. The traffic gridlock already in this area will only get worse if the business district is allowed and the West Palm Beach Mobility Plan is implemented - reducing traffic capacity even more.
The Palm Beach Civic Association supports the Town of Palm Beach's efforts in this matter.
July 24. 2018
Mr. Ray Eubanks. Plan Processing Administrator
Florida Department of Economic Opportunity
State Land Planning Agency
Caldwell Bui lding
107 East Madison - MSC 160
Tallahassee, FL 32399
RE: City of West Palm Beach Comprehensive Plan Amendment for the Okeechobee Business District (WPB Amendment 18-1)
Dear Mr. Eubanks:
In accordance with Chapter 163.3184 of the Florida Statutes (F.S.), the Town of Palm Beach, as an affected party, is submitting to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (OED) its objection to the City of West Palm Beach's Comprehensive Plan Amendment for the Okeechobee Business District (WPB Amendme.nt 18-1 ).
The Town concerns are relative to the increased traffic and reduction of service levels associated with a more intense development plan in this business district. The proposed changes will substantially increase the intensity of development along the eastern portion of the downtown Okeechobee corridor by significantly increasing the allowable floor area, height and number of stories allowed along the downtown Okeechobee Boulevard/Lakeview Avenue corridor.
It's important to note that the new development potential of the proposed business district, coupled with the other approved developments on track for construction in the immediate area in the near future. will substantially impact the ability to move traffic east and west bound in that already overcapacity corridor. To exacerbate the situation. the Mobi lity Plan the City is also undertaking will actually reduce capacity within tbis corridor.
The proposed City of West PaJm Beach comprehensive plan amendment will jeopardize the Town's ability to comply with several sections of its own comprehensive plan. Specifically. Policy 3.3 in the Town's Public Safety Element, which states that the Town will "[C]oordinate with adjacent municipalities. Palm Beach County. the Florida Department a/Transportation and other responsible agencies, to ensure that the regional transporlalion network provides for the safe and timely evacuation of residents in a hurricane or other emergency event is not degraded as a result of Transportation Concurrency Exemption Areas (TCEA)." Funhermore, Objective 4 in the Town's Transponation Element requires that the Town will coordinate with other jurisdictions and agencies to "minimize traffic impacts to SR 80 and other regionally significant roads leading to the Town." Also Policy 11.3 in the Town's CoastaJ Management/Conservation Element requires that the Town "ensure traffic impacts of proposed development in adjacent municipalities within concurrency exemption zones address all factors including, but not limiled to: a. Increased development, b. Bridge crossing and times, c. Increased passenger rail traffic, d. Increased freight rail, and e. Hurricane sheltering." The Town does not feel that these considerations were accurately taken into account in the proposed Okeechobee Business District comprehensive plan amendment.
The Town also realizes that the Palm Beach County Facilities Development & Operations Department has brought up similar concerns about the traffic impacts of the proposed comprehensive plan amendment going back more than a year ago (see attachments). It appears that these concerns and comments have gone unaddressed by the City of West Palm Beach. One of the issues raised by the County is that a traffic analysis has not been performed that accounts for all of the approved development in the area and the proposed comprehensive plan amendment. Furthermore, this section of Okeechobee Boulevard is part of the Florida Department of Transportation's (FDOT) State Highway System. and FDOT approval would be required before implementation of the comprehensive plan amendment be considered. FDOT recently notified the Town of its concerns of the Okeechobee Boulevard Corridor component of the mobility plan that the City of West Palm Beach is also undertaking (see attached letter dated May 25, 20 18). In this letter, FDOT states, "Many of the elements, which potentially reduce capacity, were noted as needing additional study to determine their feasibility." FDOT also stated, "The Department is currently conducting an assessment of existing and future traffic conditions on Okeechobee Boulevard to ensure traffic impact scenarios can be independently validated."
To summarize, it is simply counterintuitive to reduce traffic capacity on Okeechobee Boulevard, while at the same time substantially increase roadway demand by increasing the amount of development permitted within the area. Vehicular traffic should not be reduced to such a level that fire and police cannot adequately respond in emergency situations, and residents have difficulty evacuating during natural disasters such as hurricanes.
The Town respectively requests that the State first put this proposed comprehensive plan amendment on hold until after FDOT has had an opportunity to complete its traffic impact analysis. After the FDOT analysis is completed. we then ask that the FDEO take into account the anaJys is and the objections and concerns raised by Palm Beach County and the Town of Palm Beach, and disallow the proposed comprehensive plan amendment from becoming effective.
360 South County Road
Palm Beach, FL 33480
Jay Boodheshwar. Deputy Town Manager
Paul Castro, AICP, Acting Planning, Zoning & Building Director
John Lindgren, AICP. Planning Administrator
Richard Greene, AlCP, City of West Palm Beach
Ana Maria Aponte. AlCP, Cityof We,t Palm Beach
Lorenzo Aghemo. AICP, Palm Beach County
R. Eric McClellan. Palm Beach County
Gerry O'Reilly. Florida Depanment of Transportation, District 4
Michael L. Busha, AICP, Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council
Nick Uhren, PEt Palm Beach Transportation Planning Agency
Anna Ye,key, AICP, Palm Beach County IPARC