EAST COUNTY — A 610-home community is coming to East County, but not in the form its developer originally sought.
The Manatee County Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved a plan Jan. 9 for Del Tierra, a community slated for the west side of Rye Road, south of Upper Manatee River Road, during a tension-filled public hearing that showcased the concessions that developers and residents will have to make as growth continues.
“We think this is a natural progression,” said Caleb Grimes, an attorney representing developer D.R. Horton. “We think this is a community that, when it’s done, will be successful and that means having happy neighbors.”
Residents of the neighboring Country Meadows community voiced objections to Del Tierra, which Texas-based D.R. Horton will develop on 233 acres, citing concerns with traffic, water runoff and density.
Although Country Meadows residents argued the proposed community would be significantly more dense than their neighboring subdivisions (roughly three homes per acre compared with one home per acre), county planning staff noted density for the proposed development is below the county’s comprehensive plan limit of nine dwelling units per acre.
Trying to appease both sides in a deliberation that took more than four hours, the board approved an amendment to the site plan that requires Del Tierra to have private streets and to make the inter-neighborhood connection gated and used for emergency access only.
The changes developed after Country Meadows residents expressed concern about D.R. Horton’s original site plan, which proposed a second entrance to Del Tierra through Country Meadows to Upper Manatee River Road in the form of an inter-neighborhood tie.
Individuals buying homes in Country Meadows were informed of the future connection in their closing documents.
“It’s hard when a landowner wants to develop land and there is no legal ground to say something cannot be done,” said Manatee County District 5 Commissioner Vanessa Baugh, who noted Country Meadow residents thanked her for the concession after the meeting. “It’s an area with a lot of development happening already, and it’s something residents expected. We’re in a growing county. But we at least wanted to meet halfway.”
Country Meadows’ residents said they are not anti-development. Rather, they worry about the size of Del Tierra compared with neighboring areas.
The density of the Del Tierra project is comparable to the neighboring Rye Road subdivision, which the commission approved in 2012 at nearly three homes per acre. But, there are only 152 lots in that development, making it about one-fourth the size of Del Tierra.
Still, commissioners said Del Tierra is compatible with the county’s comprehensive plan.
Commissioners said they worry about Rye Road, a deteriorating two-lane road in line for repaving in 2015, which will serve as the main point of community access.
A traffic impact study county staff performed says the road can handle more activity.
“I’m not saying it’s a perfect road,” Baugh said. “It’s not. We need to stay on that.”
A traffic analysis the county conducted also anticipated a 7% traffic increase in Country Meadows if the site plan was approved as presented.
Construction on Del Tierra will begin this year and be completed in 2017.
Contact Josh Siegel at [email protected].