County zoners reject request to install industrial warehouses on Raceway

The Palm Beach International Racecourse.

The Palm Beach County Zoning Commission voted unanimously Thursday, April 7, not to approve an application that would replace the Palm Beach International Raceway with 2.1 million square feet of storage space.

Urban Design Studio’s Joni Brinkman, representing Portman Industrial, said the plaintiff purchased approximately 174 acres of the 186-acre site formerly known as Moroso Motorsports Park on the north side of the Beeline Highway west of Jupiter Farms and north of The Acreage.

Brinkman said the area is close to other areas of industrial use, including Commerce Park, which she says is rapidly running out of developable space. The North County Airport is also nearby. She pointed out that the land under discussion is already zoned for industrial development.

“There is a critical lack of industrial distribution space in Palm Beach County,” Brinkman said. “Due to COVID-19, people’s shopping habits are changing.”

The application includes a development ordinance amendment to reconfigure the site plan to allow for four warehouse buildings totaling 2.1 million square feet.

She said the economic impact would create 1,491 new jobs with an average salary of $54,000 a year, generate more than $4 million in impact and permit fees, and annual tax revenue of $3.7 million. dollars.

Timothy Haynes of the county’s zoning division said the property was almost entirely surrounded by natural area. He said county staff recommends approval of the application and necessary deviations.

Commissioners heard nearly two hours of public comment on the issue. Many speakers objected to the loss of the racetrack, which provides a service not available anywhere else in the county.

Sports Car Club of America’s Florida Region Bob Ricker said he’s been going to Palm Beach International Raceway since it was built in 1964.

“We support the area by hosting events that fill hotel rooms and other commercial areas around the county,” Ricker said. “If we eliminate the racetrack, we won’t have any place where people can legally go for drag racing or road racing. It will be on public roads, like it was when I was a kid.

Ricker pointed out that other than Palm Beach International Raceway, the next closest tracks are in Homestead and Fort Myers.

Another regular on the circuit, Loxahatchee’s Kevin Coyle, said losing the track would compromise public safety.

“Street racing is rampant across the country,” Coyle said. “We have seen our leads disappear one at a time to American companies. The proposal says it will create 1,500 jobs. It has nothing to do with what we will lose in small businesses, whether they are mechanics or businesses that sell parts. This was not considered in the proposal.

He disputed the claimant’s assertion that the warehouses would create 1,500 jobs, saying they would be largely automated.

Coyle said he also supports Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw, who said he opposes the loss of the racetrack.

Thomas Brown of Loxahatchee said he moved to the area to be near the track.

“If this track goes, I’ll probably go too,” Brown said, adding that her 17-year-old daughter has just started driving her cars on the track and her 9-year-old son will be driving a junior dragster. the.

Commissioner Mark Beatty cited traffic safety concerns about fully loaded tractor-trailers heading up the Beeline Highway and trying to level off.

Beatty added that he shares racetracks’ concerns about small businesses and street racing.

“We have two young men at Jupiter who have come through this track, and they are now professional IndyCar drivers,” he said.

Beatty brought a motion to deny approval because the request did not meet the requirements of the waiver requests, which passed unanimously. He then made a motion to deny the changes to the property in question, which also passed unanimously.

“You’re not done yet,” Beatty told attendees. “You then go to the Board of County Commissioners, so you have to report there. If you like this thing and want to keep it, they have the final say on it.

The Palm Beach County Commission meets Thursday, April 28 at 9:30 a.m.

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