LAKEWOOD RANCH — Lakewood Ranch officials are moving forward with a landscaping beautification plan that will help them prepare for the community’s future needs.
Supervisors on Lakewood Ranch Community Development District 1, 2, 4 and 5 boards Oct. 18 approved work by Kimley-Horn and Associates to develop a landscaping master plan and landscape replacement program for each of the districts.
The plan also will identify beautification opportunities that encourage neighborhood cohesiveness, preserve and enhance property values and reduce water and fertilizer use.
“Your landscape matures and various problems begin to happen,” said CDD 1 Supervisor June Stroup, who has been pushing for a long-range landscaping plan for about two years. “Things get old and need to be replaced. We have just replaced them (as needed). We’re trying to develop a consistent replacement policy. I think Lakewood Ranch is a beautiful community, and we want to continue the high standards that have existed. Now is the time to look at the future.”
Ryan Heise, Lakewood Ranch Town Hall’s director of operations, said the program will help each district identify its current and future landscaping and hardscape needs, so boards can better prepare financially for landscaping projects.
For example, the project will help District 1 prepare a phased approach for replacing landscaping berms that are beginning to decline. Additionally, the program will help districts identify more attractive assets, such as a stone monument sign, and how to use landscaping to draw attention to that asset, Heise said.
“It’s developing a long-term strategic plan to review the conditions of their landscaping and hardscape and to develop priorities that address their (biggest concerns),” Heise said. “It’ll help the boards budget appropriately for replacing plant materials. Now, we’re planning year by year, but we really want to inventory the entire property.”
Hesie said each district’s beautification plan will vary slightly, according to the district’s landscaping and hardscape needs.
Each district is paying $26,615 for the project — a savings of about $10,000 per district, because all four districts agreed to participate in the program, allowing for economies of scale. The item had not been budgeted for fiscal year 2013, but monies have been identified for the project.
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• Supervisors approved a holiday decoration policy that specifies that unless the district elects to budget for and install decorations at all neighborhood entrances, holiday decorations for specific entrance monuments will be funded by private individuals, groups or committees. Private parties must submit a “Public Holiday Display Form” by Oct. 1; Town Hall staff will coordinate and schedule decorations with an approved contractor.
• Supervisor June Stroup honored longtime Supervisor Gary Berns, who resigned Oct. 1, with a plaque for his 10 years of service.
“We’ve worked together on many projects (to make the community better), and Gary has been an integral part of that,” Stroup said.
• Supervisors agreed to renew a $300,000 line of credit with Northern Trust.
• Supervisors said they had discussed with Verizon about the poor condition of the landscaping around its building off Lakewood Ranch Boulevard, and the district has agreed to install irrigation for the property. Afterward, Verizon will install new plants.
• CDD 2 supervisors learned financing of the new maintenance facility would be delayed until late November, because the bank wanted to have site-plan approval for the project.
• Supervisors approved Safety Committee Workshop dates for 7 p.m. Jan. 7, April 1, July 1 and Oct. 7, 2013, at Town Hall. The board set Landscaping Committee meetings for 6:30 p.m. Jan. 22, April 30, July 23 and Oct. 22, 2013.
• Attorney Scott Rudacille said of financing of land for the new maintenance facility would be delayed until mid-November.
Money back to homeowners
Town Hall Finance Director Steve Zielinski said he and his staff have worked with Lakewood Ranch’s homeowners associations to reduce dues for the coming year. The Greenbrook Village, Summerfield/Riverwalk and Country Club/Edgewater Village homeowners associations will be able to offer a dues reduction. Each association is utilizing surplus funds to reduce dues by more than $86,000.
In Summerfield/Riverwalk, for example, home- owners next year will pay $100 instead of $180 in association dues. The reduction is a one-time event only.
Residents of Country Club West will not see a reduction, because the community is still new.
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Members and guests of the Lakewood Ranch Women’s Club ventured Dec. 4 to Orlando, to view holiday decorations at the Grand Floridian and to have lunch at Downtown Disney.
The Play Readers of the Asolo Repertory Theatre Guild were in fine form as they entertained at the Art Association of Palm-Aire’s opening winter luncheon with “Fractured Fairy Tales.”
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Seven Manatee County elementary schools competed in the countywide Technology Student Association catapult competition Nov. 16, at Southeast High School. Students built the catapults on-site.