PROBLEMS WITH 13th FLOOR’S DEVELOPMENT PLAN
1. TRAFFIC…MORE TRAFFIC…AND CONGESTION
According to the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), 13th Floor’s development plan severely negatively impacts Commercial Boulevard, Rock Island Road, the entrances to the Turnpike and other adjacent roadways. 13th Floor’s proposed development will further degrade operating conditions on Commercial Boulevard, Rock Island Road, State Road 7 and the entrances to the turnpike. FDOT rates these roads as currently Level of Service F. Level of Service D is the lowest acceptable level of service on these four roads and the City’s Comprehensive Plan states that Level of Service C is the lowest acceptable level of service on the roads in the Woodlands. There are no improvements planned in the County’s Transportation Plan in the next 5 years which would reduce, mitigate or eliminate these adverse traffic impacts. Florida Department of Transportation comments 11.25.2020.
Currently, traffic on Commercial Boulevard is already close to 25% higher than the capacity for which Commercial Boulevard was built. Florida Department of Transportation comments 11.25.2020. This doesn’t include other development projects already approved by the City like the 120 unit apartment complex at Bailey Road and Rock Island Road and the self storage facility at the northeast corner of Rock Island Road and Commercial Boulevard or the 500 unit apartment complex at the southwest corner of Commercial Boulevard and University Drive.
Almost all the roads in the Woodlands are one lane in each direction. 13th Floor’s proposal increases the roadway traffic by a total of 6,643 daily trips with peak hour traffic increasing from 46 trips per hour to 772 trips per hour. Kimley Horn Traffic Study 4/12/2019. This will create longer lines at the exits from the Woodlands and cause much congestion as it will greatly increase the amount of time it will take to leave the Woodlands. All this new traffic will increase the congestion on our already failing roadway system.
Kimley Horn Traffic Study 4/12/2019. Currently, residents and their children use the bike lanes on Woodlands Boulevard to run, walk, ride bikes, and wheel strollers in the bike lanes. Due to this increase in traffic, the bike lanes on Woodlands Boulevard would be unusable and dangerous.
The City's code requires residential developments promote bicycle, pedestrian, and transit-friendly neighborhoods.We need to protect our bike lanes.
2. PROPERTY VALUES
If you are like most of us, your home is your most important asset. When a golf course is closed the surrounding homes lose approximately 20% of their value according to the Wall Street Journal.
13th Floor’s own economic study shows that existing homes surrounding the former Sabal Palm and Monterrey golf courses sold for less money after the 13th Floor development was built. Sabal Palms Golf Course Redevelopment Impact Case Study 2/2018
13th Floor’s proposed development will generate only $1,136,141 in new property taxes annually. Annual Local Government Revenue Analysis of the 13th Floor Investments Residential Development in Tamarac, Florida 1/9/2019. This may 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, including the existing residents in the Woodlands.
3. NO DOUBT ABOUT IT…THERE IS ARSENIC IN THE SOIL AND GROUNDWATER
The current craze of redeveloping golf courses into residential housing has brought an arsenic problem to light. Pesticides containing arsenic were widely used on golf courses in Florida for many years. Arsenic is an odorless, tasteless contaminant that has been linked to a number of cancers. Arsenic poisoning occurs after the ingestion or inhalation of high levels of arsenic. Arsenic is extremely poisonous to humans. What makes arsenic especially dangerous is that it doesn’t have a taste or odor, so you can be exposed to it without knowing it. Through the years, arsenic contamination has been found at more than a dozen South Florida golf courses, the result of a variety of herbicides and pesticides being used over time.
Arsenic has been found in the soil as well as the groundwater at the Woodlands golf courses. Phase II, Environmental Assessment, August 28, 2019 and EW Consultants, Inc. Woodlands Country Club Environmental Assessment, October, 2018.. Arsenic contamination is the subject of increasing attention because arsenic is toxic and causes considerable environmental contamination. When a former golf course is redeveloped, the arsenic in the soil is disturbed and released into the air. As a result an elevated arsenic level is often found in the properties surrounding a golf course.
This is a serious concern because arsenic contamination impacts the health of the residents who reside near the golf course. Contaminated groundwater is the most common cause of arsenic poisoning. But it can also be caused by breathing air that contains arsenic. Long-term exposure to low concentrations of arsenic in the air and in drinking water can lead to skin, bladder, lung, kidney and prostate cancers, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Long-term exposure to arsenic can cause serious health problems. According to the World Health Organization Trusted Source, long-term symptoms tend to occur in the skin first, and can show up within five years of exposure. Cases of extreme poisoning may lead to death. The American Cancer Society and Broward County Commission agenda back-up, May 4, 2021.
4. IMPAIRED QUALITY OF LIFE AND LOSS OF GREEN SPACE
The Woodlands is a very special community. 13th Floor seeks to disrupt our life style by building 397 single-family homes on about 165 acres of the about 276 acre existing golf courses. 13th Floor May 1, 2019 power point
That represents a 45% increase in the number of homes in the Woodlands. About 200 cookie-cutter one and two-story single family homes are planned along the southern border of the Woodlands, adjacent to sections 7 & 8. These proposed new homes would be incompatible with the existing homes in Sections 7 & 8 where there are almost no two story homes.
The 13th Floor development will generate 6,643 daily car trips on our local roads, with peak hour trips increasing from 46 trips to at least 772 new peak hour trips. Kimley Horn Traffic Study 4/12/2019. Also, the latest plan from 13th Floor shows that Holly Drive, Bayberry Lane, Banyan Lane and White Oak Lane will all become exit only streets. Residents will no longer be able to enter the Woodlands from those 4 roads. All non-resident traffic will be funneled to Woodlands Boulevard, which will overburden this one lane in each direction roadway.
13th Floor’s plan would add between 1,396 to 1,508 new people to the Woodlands. This almost doubles the current population of the Woodlands. Only 51% of the homes would receive a homestead exemption meaning 49% of the homes will not be owner occupied. Annual Local Government Revenue Analysis of the 13th Floor Investments Residential Development in Tamarac, Florida 1/9/2019.
Currently, the golf course is close to 276 acres of green space. 13th Floor’s development plan would actually reduce the amount of green space by 42% to only about 160 acres of which lakes make up about 40 acres. Broward County Commission agenda backup, May 4, 2021.
The construction of this project is projected to take 6 or more years, disrupting the Woodlands lifestyle by construction 7 days a week.
5. WHAT 13TH FLOOR PROMISED THE COMMUNITY AND WHAT THEY HAVE TOLD THE CITY THEY WILL DO DOES NOT MATCH.
13th Floor told the community that the membership dues for use of recreation pod by residents in the existing 8 sections would be about $100.
The Development Agreement between 13th Floor and the City states that the $100 membership fee is for the first year only. For every other year, 13th Floor is creating a community development district (“CDD”) by which Section 9 will be solely responsible for setting the annual membership fee after the 1st year and coordinating and scheduling use of the clubhouse and amenity campus for residents and guests of the Woodlands Community. So the existing 8 sections are at the mercy of section 9 if they want to use the clubhouse or amenity campus. The existing homeowners have no way to force the new Section IX residents to maintain these “improvements” at a certain level. There is nothing in the Development Agreement which limits the charge to residents of sections 1 -8 for monthly membership to use these ammenties. Source: Development agreement between the City and 13th Floor.
13th Floor’s website shows site plans and artists renditions that have not been filed with the City. These are just marketing materials and are not binding.
The Development Agreement contains the only binding terms to which the developer is obligated to comply. That agreement is only between the City and Woodlands Club Holdings, LLLP, a Delaware corporation and not 13th Floor. This appears to be a shell corporation. The general partner of Woodlands Club Holdings, LLLP is a limited liability company named 13th Floor Woodlands HB GOP, LLC., which appears to be another shell corporation. Sunbiz.com. Anything else the Developer says, puts in a letter, a flyer, an e-mail, or any other document is meaningless because it is not binding if it is not in the development agreement. Also, the agreement can be modified at a later date with the consent of the City and Woodlands Club Holdings, LLLP.
13th Floor says its development plan creates a more resilient community by reducing current flooding conditions and improving the drainage system for the future.
FACT: The drainage system for the Woodlands will be heavily taxed because the capacity of the flood gate for the canal system is not being enlarged. This means drainage from the canals will be very slow. Adding lakes generally does not help with flooding due to the high water table. Nor is the developer enlarging the existing sewer system pipes and is installing pipes in its development which are the same size as the existing pipes. Site Plan Sewage and Water exhibit:
6. 13th FLOOR WON’T EVEN BE THE DEVELOPER OF THE PROPERTY.
The Development Agreement isn’t with 13th Floor. It is with the City and Woodlands Club Holdings, LLLP. This appears to be a shell corporation with no assets.
Also, in section 7 in Paragraph 28 of this Development Agreement the Developer is keeping the ability to assign in whole or in part all or any portion of Developer’s rights and obligations under this Agreement in connection with any sale or other transfer of a Pod so long as such assignee assumes those obligations and liabilities of Developer under this Agreement with respect to the applicable Pod sold or transferred. Then 13th Floor will have no further obligation or liability under the Agreement regarding the transferred Pod except for any unperformed obligations that arose before the assignment unless they are assumed in writing by the new Developer.
So it appears that 13th Floor is thinking about selling the parts of or the entire property if it is approved to a different Developer without the City Commission’s consent. This shows that you can’t rely on anything 13th Floor says and especially to those things in this Agreement that are contrary to what 13th Floor has told the community.