By Richard Grinnage and Chris Hodgkins
The Tamarac City Commission has scheduled a hearing on the land use plan amendment, rezoning, and the development agreement for the Woodlands Golf Courses for November 10, 2021, at 7 p.m.
This is the final hearing in the approval process, where the commission will decide whether to adopt these items. If adopted, the land use for about 165.53 acres of the golf courses will be changed from Commercial Recreation to Low (0-5) Residential. About 115.86 acres of the golf courses will be rezoned from Recreation (RC) to Residential Estate (RE) and about 49.67 acres will be rezoned from Recreation (RC) to R-2 (Two family residential).
There are plenty of reasons to be concerned about these proposed changes. Here are just a few of them.
Arsenic in the Soil and Groundwater
Soil and groundwater testing conducted at the direction of 13th Floor shows that the soil and groundwater on the Woodlands Golf Course property are contaminated with arsenic. This will need to be cleaned up before homes can be built because the arsenic contaminant concentrations in soils were found to be higher of the applicable Residential Soil Cleanup Target Level. (Phase II, Environmental Assessment, August 28, 2019, and September 13, 2019, memo from the Broward County Department of Environmental Protection and Growth Management Department, Environmental Engineering and Permitting Division. )
There is no plan in the commission backup showing how they will contain the arsenic when excavation is performed on the golf courses. Otherwise, arsenic will be released into the air when the soil is disturbed. Arsenic is a carcinogen.
It is extremely dangerous to humans because it doesn’t have a taste or odor. You can be exposed to it without knowing it. Symptoms can show up as long as five years after exposure and may even lead to death. (American Cancer Society & Broward, County Commission agenda backup, May 4, 2021, and World Health Organization.)
13th Floor Paid to Cover Information Up About Arsenic on Golf Courses Before
Arnaud Karsenti, CEO of 13th Floor, paid Bruce and Shawn Chait $500,000.00 not to release information about arsenic in the soil where the Manor Parc and Central Parc developments were built instead of warning the residents or conducting additional soil and groundwater testing. (South Florida Sun-Sentinel, March 12, 2021.)
This conduct is inconsistent with the image 13th Floor tries to portray of itself as a respectable and reputable developer. Respectable and reputable developers do not pay hush money to keep evidence of arsenic contamination quiet so that they can sell their homes to unsuspecting buyers.
Usually, projects create some increase in traffic. What makes 13th Floor’s project different is that the Florida Department of Transportation, FDOT, has issued comments about it which they rarely do.
Currently, the traffic on Commercial Boulevard is close to 25% higher than the capacity to which Commercial Boulevard was built.
The current operating Level of Service (LOS) for these roads is F. The lowest acceptable LOS is D. There are no roadway improvements planned in the County’s Transportation Plan in the next five years that would reduce, mitigate or eliminate these adverse traffic impacts or add capacity to these overburdened roadways. (Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) comments 11/25/2020.)
There is no available right of way to increase the capacity of these overburdened roadways. The increased traffic will impact all Tamarac residents who use Commercial Boulevard, Rock Island Road, State Road 7, the turnpike entrances, and adjacent roadways.
13th Floor’s proposed development will cause much congestion, and it will greatly increase the amount of time it will take to travel on these roadways to work, doctor’s appointments, or leisure activities.
Residents will have longer wait times when traveling on these overburdened roadways. The addition of 397 new homes would add 45% more homes than are presently in the Woodlands. Traffic on the roadways in the Woodlands would increase tenfold for both the peak hour trips, from 46 trips to 406 trips, and the daily number of trips, from 360 trips to 3,300 trips. (Kimley-Horn Traffic Study 4/12/2019.)
As mentioned before on Tamarac Talk, 13th Floor’s latest proposal closes the existing entrances on Banyan Lane, Holly Drive, White Oak Lane, and Bayberry Lane and makes them one way out exits. (Kimley-Horn Traffic Study 5/1/2021.)
All vendors, guests, and prospective buyers for the Woodlands community and the project will be prohibited from using any entrance to the Woodlands Community other than the main gate at the intersection of Woodlands Boulevard and Commercial Boulevard. (13th Floor’s development agreement.)
Accordingly, 42% of the new traffic will use Woodlands Boulevard as its entry point. Kimley Horn Traffic Study 4/12/2019.
Currently, there are bike lanes on Woodlands Boulevard, which residents and their children use to walk, run, ride bikes, and roll strollers on. This increase in traffic will make those bike lanes dangerous.
In July of 2019, 13th Floor promised the city commission that it would submit its site plan at the final hearing. There is no site plan submitted to the city commission for the November 10 hearing despite 13th Floor having promised two and ½ years ago to prepare a site plan and submit it at the final hearing. This is also after having received an extension of about six months.
This site plan should have been submitted to the city in May 2021.
The proposed development agreement between the city and the party responsible for building the 397 homes is, strangely, not with 13th Floor. The developer is named Woodlands Club Holdings, LLLP, a Delaware shell limited liability partnership. The manager of Woodlands Club Holdings, LLLP is another shell limited liability company named 13th Floor Woodlands HB GP, LLC, which is a Delaware limited liability company. The manager of this limited liability company is Arnaud Karsenti.
A shell limited liability company is a company set up to shield the partners from liability. Its assets are limited if they exist at all.
Finally, 13th Floor’s proposed development will likely increase your property tax bill. The 397 homes to be built by 13th Floor will generate only $1,136,141 in new property taxes annually.
This will not be enough to cover the annual cost of new employees and services for these new residents. Then the city would have to increase the amount of property taxes on all residents in Tamarac. (Annual Local Government Revenue Analysis of the 13th Floor Investments Residential Development in Tamarac, Florida 1/9/2019.)
The November 10 hearing is your chance to be heard. Based on all these facts, including the facts found in 13th Floor’s own documents, this proposed project will negatively impact everyone who lives in the city of Tamarac and particularly those who live in the Woodlands.
Don’t miss this opportunity to protect the City of Tamarac and urge the members of the city commission to vote NO.
Richard Grinnage is President of Woodlands Section 3, and Chris Hodgkins is President of Woodlands Section 4.
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