Apartments offered by Palm City Elementary raise security concerns

PALM CITY — A developer’s informal presentation for proposed apartments before a neighborhood committee on Monday resulted in a crowded meeting room, mostly filled with opposing residents concerned about safety, traffic and density.

Donald Barnes of Jamsz Development Company and Tequesta-based BFT Development presented plans to the Old Palm City Neighborhood Advisory Committee for a 90-unit apartment project that would be located at the northwest corner from Palm City School Avenue and Southwest Martin Highway. The development would consist of three three-story buildings on a 6-acre property less than ½ mile from Palm City Elementary School.

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The project would include 12 one-bedroom units, 15 two-bedroom units and three three-bedroom units per building in addition to a clubhouse and a 2,600 square foot swimming pool, according to the presentation.

About 50 people attended the meeting with more than a dozen speakers who saw the project as unsuitable for the community, particularly in a location where children walk to school and would encounter more cars in the region.

Palm City resident Jennifer Hulet, who lives in the Danforth subdivision across from the property, recently moved back to Martin County to raise her children in a safe neighborhood, she said.

“I would really like to see the Martin County that I grew up in, and this is not it,” Hulet told the committee. “I don’t even recognize this county anymore, and that’s very disappointing.”

County Commissioner Ed Ciampi, who represents Palm City, also spoke during public comments, saying Barnes missed the mark on what would be welcomed by surrounding neighbors.

“This project is a very attractive project, probably somewhere else,” he said.

Site plans for the project were submitted to Growth Management staff over the past week, Barnes told TCPalm. It is unclear when he would go before the Local Planning Agency and the Martin County Commission.

Additionally, rental prices are indeterminate, Barnes said. When committee member Colleen Pachowicz asked if the units would be affordable, Barnes said they would be “accessible” to tenants such as young professionals.

Barnes had informed the neighboring Oakbrooke Estates Homeowners Association of his development plans, which changed from townhouses to apartments, he said. Barnes had planned to go back and get more community feedback after the committee meeting.

“I think it’s a spectacular project. I think it would be an asset to the community,” he said.

Lina Ruiz is TCPalm’s watchdog reporter for Martin County. You can reach her at [email protected], on Twitter @Lina_Ruiz48 or at 321-501-3845

Margie D. Carlisle