There’s long been a Loxahatchee – all 42.13 square miles of it – in Palm Beach County but it could soon be official.
The unincorporated area in the western part of the county would become the Village of Loxahatchee – the county's 40th municipality – under a local bill (HB 1113) sponsored this legislative session by state Rep. Rick Roth, R-West Palm Beach.
The measure has been scheduled for three House committees but has not yet had a first hearing. If passed, those who live there also would have to vote on it in a Nov. 7 referendum. If that passes, the new village (pop. roughly 44,800) would be created effective Dec. 31.
The village would then elect a mayor and city council, and be protected from annexation by surrounding municipalities. Nearby Palm Beach Gardens, for instance, may continue to annex lands to its west which would include sections of what is currently Loxahatchee.
Resident Lou Colantuoni supports the bill, saying he and others in the community resent the fact that much of the county tax money they pay is going toward projects in eastern Palm Beach County.
“People move out here to get away from all the homeowners associations and other restrictive things,” Colantuoni said of the still largely rural area. “We want to be free. We want to live in a rural environment. We want to incorporate to save our rural, agricultural lifestyle.”
Colantuoni said he wants local zoning to remain agricultural-residential, and needs the protection of incorporation to ensure and “have a say in the future of our growing area. We are seeing more developers and more traffic on the roads.”
Records show the community worked with Palm Beach County to establish the Acreage Neighborhood Plan in the early 1990s, so there’s long been support for a comprehensive look at incorporation by local residents. The community is already served by the Indian Trail Improvement District and many of the responsibilities as well as resources would be turned over to the new municipality.
The new Loxahatchee will need to go through the state’s comprehensive planning process required of cities. The new village’s planning staff, with community input, will prepare the new “comp plan,” an opportunity to preserve and protect the character of the area and plan for the village.
Moreover, the village would provide law enforcement through an inter-governmental agreement with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and Fire Rescue.
The village is bordered to the north by Palm Beach Gardens and the JW Corbett Wildlife Management Area, to the east by Palm Beach Gardens and West Palm Beach, to the south by Loxahatchee Groves, Royal Palm Beach, and Wellington; and surrounds Westlake on three and one-half sides.
The remainder of the areas bordering the proposed municipality are expected to remain as unincorporated areas of Palm Beach County, according to planning documents.
David Volz has been a reporter for community news publications throughout South Florida over the past two decades, as well as the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Miami Herald and South Florida Business Journal. He covers local government, schools, sports, culture, faith groups and workplaces.