Florida appeals court clears way for Minto's Westlake community to move forward
Authorities affirm 3 different times that Palm Beach County’s approval process was sound and legal
Central Palm Beach County, Fla. (March 31, 2016) – Minto Communities Florida will begin work on Westlake in central Palm Beach County following a unanimous ruling by the 1st District Court of Appeals that rejected all arguments against the 3,800-acre project.
The court turned away objections for the master-planned community of 4,500 homes and 2.2 million square feet of commercial space.
“Westlake will bring thoughtful and planned development to an area of the county that has experienced urban sprawl over decades,” said Mike Belmont, president of Minto Communities.
“The regulatory and court challenges to the Comprehensive Plan Amendment are over,” said John Carter, vice president of Minto Communities. “The appeals court decision makes it clear that the land use approval by the Board of County Commissioners met the stringent criteria to amend the county’s Comprehensive Plan and we look forward to breaking ground on this visionary project.”
The Palm Beach County Commission approved Westlake and amendments to the county’s comprehensive plan in October 2014. Immediately following the approval, an association of area residents filed objections that went before an administrative law judge. Minto Communities joined the County as defendants in the challenge.
The judge found in his Recommended Order that the land-use amendment for Westlake rectified existing problems with land development in an area known as The Acreage.
“The preponderance of the evidence shows the proposed amendments discourage the proliferation of urban sprawl,” the judge wrote in an opinion delivered April 17, 2015.
Residents filed exceptions to the administrative law judge’s Recommended Order decision with the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO). In July 2015, the agency denied every exception raised to the judge’s Recommended Order and issued its Final Order, saying that the plaintiffs had failed to make their arguments.
Two residents of the Acreage appealed the Final Order. As is custom for state agency challenges, the 1st District Court of Appeals in Tallahassee heard arguments from both sides. The court affirmed the DEO’s final order on March 15, 2016 in favor of Palm Beach County and Minto.
“The courts and a state agency have affirmed three times that the approval process was proper and consistent with law as well as sound planning principals,” said Carter. “Unfortunately, a lot of time and taxpayer money was wasted hearing unfounded objections. It’s time to move forward.”
About Minto Communities Florida
Founded in 1955, Minto is a family-owned business that has grown over the last 60 years into one of North America’s leading builders, with more than 80,000 homes built, including 25,000 in Florida. Minto creates a wide array of award-winning new homes and resort-style master-planned communities to meet every lifestyle. The company has earned national awards and recognition that include consistently high rankings from Eliant Customer Service Surveys, Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) and multiple national awards in community and home design. For information, visit mintofla.com.
Kelsey Dean/Todd Templin