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Chan Lowe: Development in the Palm Beach Ag Reserve

I’d just as soon they let developers cover the Ag Reserve with cracker box neighborhoods, gas stations and Wal Marts.

 

As a Palm Beach County taxpayer, I’m still smarting from the $100 million we spent back in 1999 to keep land out of their hands.

 

As it stands, even the farmers and growers out there are begging for the county to stop “saving” them. They want top dollar for their rich soil so it can get paved over and they can retire to Hawaii or somewhere. If they don’t care, why should I?

 

The argument that the Ag Reserve provides jobs that will disappear doesn’t wash with me. When the developments metastasize into the farmland, the workers will be able to find employment as plumbers, roofers, electricians, and service personnel as all the shabbily built new homes inevitably begin deteriorating in the harsh Florida sun, wind and rain.

 

If the pickers want to remain in the agricultural sphere, they can go to work for a lawn service, or maybe one of those pesticide companies that sprays chemicals all over the St. Augustine grass to keep it nice and green. Or they could trap and dispose of errant wildlife recently stripped of habitat. And think of the increased tax base for the county. No more agricultural millage rate. We’re talking about the annual love note those thousands of new homeowners will get from Tax Collector Anne Gannon, demanding more and more revenue to support all the new schools, fire districts and sheriff’s substations that’ll be popping up like dandelions.

 

Yes, sir. It’s a win-win all around. It’s basically a freebie for the Palm Beach County commissioners, because most residents east of U.S. 441 aren’t aware or don’t care that the Ag Reserve exists, so they won’t know what they’re losing. The landowners will get inflated prices for their acreages, the developers will clean up, and the rest of us will get better-tasting tomatoes from Mexico.

 

Personally, I can’t find a flaw in the plan.

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