Members of the Sarasota County Planning Commission signed off Thursday on three of five comprehensive plan amendments proposed by Lakewood Ranch developer Schroeder-Manatee Ranch for a 5,500-acre property south of the Lakewood Ranch Corporate Park.
SMR officials have said all proposed changes are critical for moving forward with the project, called the Villages of Lakewood Ranch South project. It would bring more than 5,000 homes to the area.
“It’s a very delicate balance to make everything work,” said Todd Pokrywa, SMR’s vice president of planning. “That’s why we’ve identified from the very beginning these issues in the comprehensive plan to make this (project) viable for us. The site’s very constrained because of its geographic configuration. Without the approval of these five development requests, the obstacles would give us substantial physical development problems.
Planning commissioners granted requests to widen Lakewood Ranch Boulevard from two to four lanes from University Parkway to Fruitville Road, remove a 126-acre greenway from the Gum Slough area and remove a greenbelt from the north end of the property along University Parkway.
They denied requests for a change in width of buffers and a change along the southern greenway, arguing that the changes may go against the intent of Sarasota’s 2050 plan, which details how development should occur in various sections of the county.
The planning commission’s recommendation is expected to go before Sarasota County commissioners June 9.
“We’re very hopeful the board will consider and transmit all five,” Pokrywa said. “The board has been more involved than the planning commission in these issues. We’re very optimistic that they’ll look very favorably at it.”
Assuming Sarasota County commissioners approve all five changes in June, the proposed changes would then head to the Department of Community Affairs for review and approval.
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