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Sarasota County faces administrative challenge over Lakewood Ranch expansion

Two Bern Creek residents have filed the challenge over the planned Lakewood Ranch Southeast development, citing its impact on wildlife and traffic.

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Bern Creek residents Mike Hutchinson and Eileen Fitzgerald have filed an administrative challenge over Sarasota County's approval in October of a comprehensive plan amendment to allow Schroeder-Manatee Ranch to build 5,000 homes in the northeastern part of the county.

The development, being built on 4,120 acres generally south of University Parkway and east of Lorraine Road, has been called Lakewood Ranch Southeast.

Hutchinson and Fitzgerald put out a press release after filing the challenge Nov. 28.

The challenge cited adverse effects on "important agriculture, wildlife, wetlands, and floodplain." Also cited was an adverse effect on traffic.

Hutchinson and Fitzgerald said the development will be incompatible with existing rural homes, including Bern Creek Ranch. 

The challenge states the development "is inconsistent with state law … and with the county's Comprehensive Plan."

According to the release, the petitioners are represented by Richard Grosso, Esq. of Richard Grosso, P.A., Robert Hartsell, Esq. and Shai Ozery, Esq. with Robert N. Hartsell, P.A., with Charles Gauthier, FAICP, as a planning expert.

Keep the Country, Inc., a not-for-profit organization formed to preserve and protect the rural areas of northern Sarasota County, is providing funding support for the challenge.



Jay Heater

Jay Heater is the managing editor of the East County Observer. Overall, he has been in the business more than 41 years, 26 spent at the Contra Costa Times in the San Francisco Bay area as a sportswriter covering college football and basketball, boxing and horse racing.

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