March 31, 2015

Homeowners air Trinity development concerns

By: Vicki Parsons - IT

By Laura Kinsler | Tribune Staff 
Published: March 20, 2015

TRINITY — The development team from Kitson & Partners met with dozens of Trinity residents this week in an effort to assuage their concerns that a new shopping center and housing development on Mitchell Ranch would add to traffic and flooding problems in surrounding neighborhoods.

Homeowners from Trinity Oaks, Seven Springs, Park Lake and several other neighborhoods filled the meeting room at Generations Christian Church to question Kitson Vice President Debra Dremann about the project.

The Palm Beach Gardens developer is under contract to buy the 330-acre tract on the southwest corner of Little Road and State Road 54 from the Mitchell family. The Mitchells have owned the cattle ranch for generations. County commissioners are scheduled to consider the rezoning application in May.

Kitson is applying for nearly a million square feet of retail space and up to 800 housing units. A few highlights include a 12-screen movie theater, a fitness center, department stores, at least 10 restaurants and a town square. The plan also calls for a big-box warehouse store at S.R. 54 and Welbilt Boulevard.

Construction is slated to start with a specialty grocery store scheduled to open by July 2017. The site plan also shows a wine superstore and sporting goods and home decor big-box stores.

The heart of the project is a Main Street village that would feature shops, restaurants and the movie theater circling a park. “This is going to be for the entire region,” Dremann said. “It’s going to be a place where you have arts festivals and outdoor concerts. It’s going to have a splash pad. It’s going to be a place where you can come and engage every day. It’s not just about the retailers.”

Dremann said the grand opening for the mall and entertainment district would be in late 2017 or early 2018. Construction on the residential portion would start last. Kitson is seeking entitlements for 800 homes, including an apartment complex with up to 330 units. The rest would be a mix of town homes and single-family homes, Dremann said.

Trinity resident Ron Levi was one of several homeowners who voiced concerns about stormwater runoff. “I’m not trying to put a damper on what you’re doing,” he said, “but I’m telling you you’re going to flood out our neighborhood.”

Dremann said Kitson’s engineers are keenly aware of the area’s drainage problems. “We understand it’s a big issue — the flooding. We take it very seriously,” she said.

Gary Nelson, who leads Kitson’s land planning division, said the developer would bring in enough fill to “elevate the vast majority of the site 2 (to) 3 feet” so the drainage ponds would contain the stormwater.

“We’ve never had downstream flooding issues on any of our projects,” he said.

Other residents questioned Dremann about the company’s commitment to protect wetlands and wildlife habitat on the property.

Dremann said the company had designed the site — and even shifted the alignment of the Welbilt Boulevard extension east — specifically to avoid disrupting wetlands. She said the company hopes to have permits from the Southwest Florida Water Management District and the Army Corps of Engineers by early 2016.