The developer held a neighborhood meeting Monday to gauge neighborhood opinions.
Carl Bergstresser has had his parcel in paradise along the Braden River since he was 21. He inherited the land from his family, but even before he built his home on it, he used to go camping there as a child.
The acres to his east remained a wooded forest for years, but it could become the home to Bergstresser’s new neighbors.
Neal Communities is under contract to buy 32.93 acres of property at the corner of Clubhouse Drive and Pine Meadow Way. The developer will be applying to Manatee County for a rezone that would allow it to potentially build a 31-home gated community wedged between wetlands.
The homes would most likely be Neal Communities “signature” line, said Maryann Grgic, Neal Communications community and government relations director. The signature line is the developer’s higher-end line of homes with houses usually selling between $550,000 and $800,000.
President Pat Neal said a 31-home development is a little smaller than his typical endeavors.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve built 30 homes,” he said, but the property has its perks. “It’s the center of the universe.”
During a neighborhood meeting Monday, Dec. 14, Neal Communities invited residents to review a concept plan of the community, ask questions and voice concerns before the developer begins the application process to the county.
“I don’t want to have houses jammed up next to me,” Bergstresser said. “I can’t keep the same quality of life.”
He said he’d rather see the county or state buy it and make a park with fitness trails for the surrounding neighborhood and help conserve some land near the Braden River.
Tom and Gail Myers, Braden Woods residents who live on Pine Meadows Way, also don’t want to see their woods removed. The couple said they like to watch deer and other wildlife who live in the acreage.
“I don’t understand why they want to put 31 homes in such a small area,” Gail Myers said. “They’re going to rip out all the woods… We like all the wildlife that comes out of there.”
“I’m dead set against it,” Tom Myers added.
The concept plan does include three drainage ponds and conserved wetland areas with a 30-foot buffer around them; about 50% of the property would be preserved as open space and a buffer would be left along the Braden River, too, Grgic said in an email.
Other residents, including Ray Geilser also of Braden Woods, brought up traffic queries and the impact of additional drivers on the residential streets.
“I’m a little concerned that there will be more people driving there,” Geilser said, and added, “I’d like to see what the houses will be like.”
Neal said the development could ultimately be a traffic alleviator; according to the county’s comprehensive road plan developed in the 1980s, the county eventually wanted to connect Linger Lodge Road to Clubhouse Drive, which would then connect the communities west of Interstate I-75 to Lakewood Ranch. His development would call for the deletion of such a connector from the future plan.