PALM BEACH POST: Buyback of conservation zone near Boynton lauded by environmentalists

Palm Beach Post: Written by Wayne Washington. June 18, 2017. 

Preservationists and environmentalists are on the verge of another victory in their quest to limit building in Palm Beach County’s Agricultural Reserve, a 22,000-acre farming and land conservation zone west of Boynton Beach and Delray Beach that has been under increasing development pressure.

County commissioners advanced a proposed budget Tuesday that includes $3 million to begin a three-year, $9 million process to reacquire full ownership of a 571-acre tract the county purchased with public bond money in 2000.

The South Florida Water Management District purchased a 61 percent stake in the land in 2006 for $13.7 million to help with its Lake Okeechobee and Everglades cleanup plan. But when the district’s plan to build a reservoir on the land changed, the district approached the county about a joint sale.

That angered environmentalists and preservationists who feared that private ownership of the land would open the door to its eventual development, even if the buyer was the Pero farming family, which currently leases it for agriculture.

They urged the county to reacquire full ownership of the land to ensure its continued availability for agriculture, preservation or environmental protection.

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