A plan to create 520 apartments in Jupiter was rejected Tuesday night by the Town Council, but a recently passed Florida law could revive the plan.
Senate Bill 102 also known as the “Live Local Act” adds $711 million worth of taxpayer funds into different programs to help people build and buy homes.
However, the bill also allows developers to build apartments if a certain percentage of the units have rents tied to the median income in a given area.
Corey Crowley, who is a developer, said the law allows a developer to change zoning requirements through an administrative process rather than a vote from elected officials.
However, he said this might take time because an entity could slow down the process by not having policies within their town codes or interpreting the law differently than a developer.
“The law, when you read the details, is very powerful,” Crowley said, “but the implementation won’t be smooth.”
According to documents from the town of Jupiter, the developer for the project, called Sant Circle, said it believes the project is allowed to be built because of SB 102. However, the town attorney disagreed because a development agreement occurred under a different law.
Crowley said issues interpreting state laws at the local level happen with other topics, but developers have enough money to take the issue to court.
He said the bill could allow a developer to turn a shopping center or mall into an apartment building. Crowley said this could create issues because some places might not have the infrastructure needed for these developments.
“If I build a 24-story complex, I can legitimately create a downtown environment, and that means the county might have to make a new sewer system. They might have to do a whole series of things,” he explained. “The worst part is that they might not get any taxpayer money for that if they build an entirely affordable project.”
WPTV contacted the five lawmakers who sponsored the bipartisan legislation to see why this rule was placed inside the bill late Thursday night, but they didn’t return our request for comment.
Crowley said the intent of the legislation is to build a greater housing supply.
“Tallahassee is saying, ‘We don’t have time to wait anymore,'” he said. “Property values have doubled. They are going to double again. You know, you guys need to start building in scale.”
Josh Smith, who employs about 150 people in the medical field, said workforce housing is needed in Jupiter. He said it’s hard to keep employees because they have to travel from further distances.
The employees have to live somewhere,” Smith said. “They cant live in Martin County. They cant live in Port St. Lucie, and youre putting employers in a difficult decision.
The council turned down the project over concerns from people about traffic, controlling the population in local schools and the possibility of attracting a corporate headquarters in the future.
The developers for the Sant Circle project said they didn’t have future plans for the building on Wednesday.