LAKEWOOD RANCH — Every day, dozens of children in Greenbrook East strap on their bicycle helmets and pedal off to school or to a friend’s house.
And every day, dozens of parents in Greenbrook East cringe when they see their children veer off into the street. With construction at a standstill, 83 lots throughout the Banks, Preserve and Ravines remain untouched; and with each unfinished lot also comes a large gap in the sidewalk.
But several months ago, Lakewood Ranch developer Schroeder-Manatee Ranch unveiled a plan to alleviate the problem. SMR agreed to front about $108,000 in construction costs to help fill in the sidewalks gaps in front of the 83 unsold lots in Greenbrook East.
In return, a $1,404.38 assessment would be filed and charged to each lot’s owner. The owners would then be required to pay back the assessments when taxes are due next year rather than when the individual lots are sold, said Andy Cohen, Lakewood Ranch Community Development District 4 Attorney.
During a public hearing May 21, CDD 4 supervisors listened as Bruce Williams Homes President Britt Williams, who owns 22 of the 83 unsold lots, opposed the proposed assessments. In the struggling economy, Williams said the $31,000 in assessments the company would have to pay in a year would be difficult for his company to manage.
“The assessment is a tough number to swallow in these tough times,” Williams said, citing increased maintenance costs, drainage issues and other unintended consequences.
Rather than put in sidewalks, Williams offered the board three alternatives to help alleviate the problem while also helping to reduce costs. The alternatives include: shell paths, which would cost SMR $27,000 as opposed to $108,000, placing sidewalks throughout half of the community at a cost of $37,000 or a combination of the first two alternatives, placing a shell path throughout half of the community.
After listening to Williams’ suggestions, the CDD 4 board decided to continue the public hearing until its June 11 meeting to see if there is a way to extend payment of the assessments passed one year.
Although several supervisors noted that their main concern is still their residents.
“I have some empathy and sympathy for the builders, but my first priority is the neighbors and the neighborhoods,” CDD 4 Supervisor Michael Griffin said.
“Our commitment is to the neighborhood and the people of Greenbrook, and I think anything other than cement sidewalks is not in the best interest of our neighbors,” CDD 4 Chairwoman Anne Fischer added.
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IN OTHER CDD NEWS
• The CDD 1 Board of Supervisors agreed to transfer $39,000 from the hardscape fund to the contingency fund for the replacement of mailboxes in Summerfield Glenn, Pines, Crest and Strand. The board originally intended to replace all of the mailboxes in Summerfield east of Lakewood Ranch Boulevard; however only the northern half will be completed this year with the southern half, including Riverwalk, to be completed next year.
• Operations Director Ryan Heise noted that Garden Leaders, the landscaping company for district 1, did not receive a passing score by OLM and will not receive its 25% performance bonus as a result.
• The United States Postal Service recently left a note on its blue full-size mailbox at the corner of Summerfield Boulevard and Lakewood Ranch Boulevard, stating that the box would be removed due to a lack of use. “That’s ludicrous,” CDD 1 Supervisor Phyllis Troy said. “This will not be acceptable.” The CDD 1 Board agreed to draft a letter to the post office and encouraged residents to do so as well.
• CDD 1 Supervisor Jean Stewart noted that 14 boys were apprehended by the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office for running out in front of cars in Greenbrook.
• The CDD 2 and 5 boards approved a motion to each pay $56,000 for the completion of the Legacy gatehouse project. The project is expected to cost $123,429.
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