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Brightline train, garage lease moves on for final OK

It’s full speed ahead for Boca’s lease for a Brightline train station and garage downtown.

But after approving the lease late Thursday, all the city’s Planning & Zoning Board can do is recommend City Council accept the terms, still being negotiated.

Now the lease moves on to the final public hearing Dec. 10. Brightline’s negotiating to use city land in front of the Downtown Library on Second Avenue for a garage, and put a station on the tracks.

It was clear the city expected a larger crowd. But council chambers wasn’t even half full for the session. The P&Z heard out residents for nearly two hours. They urged the board to vote no.

Most spoke against the station, location or lease terms. The company dropped plans for a TOD, other public lands for commercial use, in the lease. But speakers objected to giving the company the right of first refusal if the city sells land down the road.

Charles Bennardini called the lease “a land grab” and objected to the $1 a year term.

P&Z chairman Arnold Sevell assured him the city is negotiating for a share of the parking proceeds.

“There are other better options and this one is not sufficient,” commercial artist Adam Rosenzweig said about the design. He presented slides of alternatives.

Library Commons president Terri Waitzer said she didn’t object to the station per se. But she asked for “more buffering and security for my neighbors.”

Residents of the neighborhood that abuts the site have spoken out at every council meeting. Council agreed to ask Brightline to move the station further south.

Boca Chamber and most of the business community have backed the project for economic development and tourism.

By Marci Shatzman

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