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East County Wednesday, Jun. 10, 2009 8 years ago

Villages project fails to gain commission support


SARASOTA COUNTY — Schroeder-Manatee Ranch officials were hoping for a different decision from Sarasota County commissioners Tuesday. 

But they only got the same.

Just as Sarasota County planning commissioners recommended in May, county commissioners endorsed only three of five amendments to SMR's 5,550-acre Villages of Lakewood Ranch South. SMR officials have maintained that all five are cruicial to continuing with the project.

Commissioners denied SMR's request to reduce the project's eastern buffer from 550 feet to 200 feet and also to eliminate the greenbelt requirement along the project's southern boundary.

The commission approved the elimination of a 500-foot greenbelt at the northern part of the property, the elimination of a 126-acre greenway from the Gum Slough area and a modification to make Lakewood Ranch Boulevard four lanes instead of two.

If built, The Villages would be the first project constructed under Sarasota County's 2050 plan which encourages developments built around town centers. SMR has been working with Sarasota County officials on The Villages since 2003, when the project was selected to be a test site to see how Sarasota’s 2050 Plan could be implemented.

At the meeting, Commissioner Joe Barbetta argued that some of 2050's stipulations were too strict.

SMR had scheduled to begin the three-phase, 20-year project as early as 2012, said SMR Vice President of Planning Todd Pokrywa. Now, the state Department of Community Affairs will review the project, which could take several months.

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