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Federal Highway acreage development moves along



Deerfield Beach – The commission here approved a land use change for six acres fronting Federal Highway Tuesday, but residents of the area continue to say development there will cause major traffic problems.

The four parcels located between Northeast 2 Street and Northeast 4 Street will be rezoned from commercial and moderate residential to a residential designation allowing for 48 dwelling units per acre. Planned is a five-story story building with 277 rental units and lifestyle amenities.

Residents in the single-family homes to the west urged the developer’s attorney Dennis Mele to consider a two or three-story building instead. They were also concerned the rental complex would attract “transient” occupants.

Katy Freitag, who lives south of the area, said Northeast 2 Street is a drop-off for Deerfield Beach Elementary School. She feared traffic will overflow onto a church parking lot and into residential side streets and called the proposed development “not feasible.”

The acreage is currently zoned for commercial use allowing for buildings as high as 75 feet. A traffic study will be done for the site plan but Mele said commercial use of the property could generate 2,500 vehicle trips a day, while the residential building would produce only an additional 1,508.

He also assured the neighbors that the rental units would be offered at market rate. “This is a very desirable location. There will be no short-term rentals, no transients.”

Mele said he has held two meetings with residents of the area to discuss the project. But Commissioner Ben Preston said, “What I am hearing is what took place didn’t satisfy residents. So go back and talk . . . these people matter.”

Mele said he has reached out to 18 or 19 households. The second meeting was not as well attended as the first, which he said may indicate people are “okay” with the project and “less concerned.”

Supporting the land use change, Commissioner Bernie Parness said, “I cannot disapprove of a development because some don’t like it in their neighborhood. I cannot stop progress because 10 or 12 people voice objections.”

Parness serves on the Broward County Planning Council, which has approved the land use changes.

Commissioner Michael Hudak, whose district includes the project, said he has concerns about traffic flow on Federal Highway. Residents of the rental building will have to make a u-turn on Federal in order to travel north he noted. And he added, residents of the apartments will be able to look down into people’s backyards. “Hopefully, you find solutions,” he said to Mele.

Mayor Bill Ganz told the objectors to look at the property as it could be built out. “You could have a five-story hotel with a rooftop lounge,” Ganz said. “This will be built and no matter how it is, residents will be affected . . . this, the land-use change, is the lesser evil.”

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