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East County Friday, Aug. 2, 2019 4 months ago

Lakewood Centre changes approved

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Commissioners agree SMR's plans make sense.
by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

As Schroeder-Manatee Ranch builds out the northwest quadrant of Lakewood Ranch, it wanted to shift approvals for multifamily

housing closer to existing residential neighborhoods, eliminate park sites no longer desired by Manatee County and add 30 acres to be dedicated to a new housing type — a community of single-family rental homes.

Manatee County commissioners agreed those ideas made sense and granted SMR’s requests for changes to the Lakewood Centre Development of Regional Impact, which spans 1,495 acres across two areas — roughly north of 44th Avenue to State Road 64 between Lakewood Ranch and White Eagle boulevards and roughly between Lakewood Ranch and White Eagle boulevards south of Malachite Drive to State Road 70.

At the land use meeting Aug. 1, commissioners discussed concerns they had heard from residents in Eagle Trace about buffering their gated community from future four-story apartments. They also discussed the concerns about crime at apartments and traffic on Lakewood Ranch Boulevard raised by two residents of Arbor Grande, which would be adjacent to the future single-family home apartment community at the northeast corner of Lakewood Ranch Boulevard and Woodfern Trail.

Arbor Grande’s David Smith said apartments show higher crime levels than other areas, according to Manatee County Sheriff’s website, and that he worried about adding more vehicles on Lakewood Ranch Boulevard.

“In a nutshell, we’re adding 500 cars to come and go at this one little intersection on a curve,” he said. “I’d prefer to have the light industrial building [that’s already approved there]. That could handle the traffic easily.”

Indigo’s Jan Holt also raised concerns about placing apartments adjacent to the new Mona Jain Middle School on 44th Avenue East, where a county park had been proposed. Manatee County no longer wants the site. Holt said traffic in the area will increase over time as Lakewood Ranch develops, but putting apartments so close to schools could be problematic.

“I don’t think it’s the best place to put an apartment complex,” she said. “All the traffic is going to come into the street where the school is.”

She also said it would change the feel of the area.

Commissioners said traffic concerns would be addressed as plans for each project comes forward.

“SMR is looking at what the market wants,” At-large Commissioner Carol Whitmore said. “Not everyone wants to own. Just because you don’t own a house, doesn’t mean you’re poor. The apartments will be market price.”

Whitmore said she sympathizes with traffic concerns but believes they have been adequately addressed.

In other business, a second and final public hearing on changes to allow residential and residential support uses, such as a day care or church, at the southwest corner of S.R. 70 and Tara Boulevard, will be held Sept. 5.

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