Northern Palm Beach Co. residents reject proposed apartment complex as state mulls its fate

JUNO BEACH, Fla. - A plan to redevelop a mostly-empty shopping plaza into a 250-unit apartment complex just south of Juno Beach is waiting for approval from the state to move forward.

However, it faces overwhelming opposition from people who live nearby.

Currently the plaza has a Blockbuster frozen in time, what used to be an Italian restaurant and a lonely parking lot.

Beside the handful of businesses still open, the North Beach Plaza is a forgettable place. 

“Oh yeah we definitely want it redeveloped but most of the tenants that have gone out of this shopping center have relocated in the area,” said Linda Erbacher, who lives nearby. 

The issue: the owners proposed a 250-unit complex on the 11-acre plot of land that the county commission approved and will send to Tallahassee. 

There’s near universal opposition from everyone who lives nearby, including Erbacher. 

Their main concern: too much density. 

“Most of these are very narrow residential streets. We don’t have sidewalks, we don’t have lights,” she said. 

In nearby Juno Beach, the town council also opposes it. The land is in their annexation plan. 

“This property is on a barrier island. In the event of a hurricane, evacuations are mandatory. This could put lives at risk,” said Juno Beach Vice Mayor Jim Lyons. 

The proposal is in Tallahassee because the developer is legally allowed to have 211 units, but wants approval for 250. 

Commissioner Dave Kerner was one of five who voted to send it to the state, saying the county needs more housing that the working class can afford. 

“I don’t think a difference of 30 units is going to make a big difference in evacuations but that’s why we sent it to that state and if those fears are well founded, we will not move forward on it,” Kerner said. 

The state is expected to make its decision in the summer. 

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