Published: Aug 31, 2010 3:47 PM EDT
Updated: Aug 31, 2010 12:47 PM EDT

LOXAHATCHEE, Fla. (AP) - A Palm Beach tourist attraction with zebras, lions, giraffes and other exotic animals may soon be getting new inhabitants: hundreds of homes filled with people.

The county commission has approved Lion Country Safari's request to change its land designation, clearing the way for up to 254 new homes on its 637 acres in Loxahatchee.

Previous land use limits allowed the construction of just 63 homes.

The attraction's officials have pressed for years to allow more development, claiming they need to diversity income sources.

The deal would restrict homes to areas that don't currently house animals.

Local residents, environmental groups and the state Department of Community Affairs opposed the change, arguing it will worsen the area's urban sprawl problems. They could still file a legal challenge.