LANTANA, Fla. — The future remains uncertain for the former Kmart building along South Dixie Highway and Hypoluxo Road in Lantana.
On Monday night, town leaders unanimously denied a proposal submitted by the Morgan Group Inc., to build a multi-family apartment complex with 231 units.
The 84,350 square foot building has been empty for the past two years and is considered to be one of the last largest pieces of property in town to develop.
It was a packed house Monday night, with standing-room-only as council members continued their discussions on the proposed plan.
During public comments, nearly a dozen residents spoke out against the submitted rezoning application and site plan.
Longtime resident Stephanie Forman started an online petition and garnered more than 800 signatures.
"I don't feel that this project fits into the atmosphere of Lantana," Forman said.
Forman fears the project would've depleted Lantana's small town feel.
"Boxed-in gated community wedged in between two commercial strips with no cohesive flow," Forman added.
For Melanie Barnett, traffic was also a concern.
"We're not ready to support thousands of people living in this small community," Barnett said. "It just hasn't been built up yet."
Instead, both residents said they would like to see commercial real estate and opportunities for more businesses in the area.
Business owners remained neutral. Dean Ismajli owns a near by restaurant, Lantana Pizza.
He said the development would've certainly helped his bottom line but understands the residents' strong reservations.
"You got to look at the long run," Ismajli said. "These are the people that supported me for the last 20 years, so I have to be with the residents."
In a 5-0 vote, the town council ultimately rejected the plan.
"If we are going to develop that piece of property, we should develop the entire piece of the property," Mayor Robert Hagerty said.