- May 6, 2015
Sarasota County commissioners voted 5-0 Tuesday to drop consideration of giving a business corridor overlay designation to a strip of Lorraine Road in Lakewood Ranch from Fruitville Road north to Blue Lake Road.
Commissioners originally were set to decide whether to grant the business corridor overlay designation for both that section of Lorraine Road along with a section of Lorraine farther south from Clark Road to State Road 681. However, Commissioner Alan Maio made a motion to exclude the Lakewood Ranch stretch of the road from further consideration.
The commissioners then voted 5-0 to exclude the Lakewood Ranch section before voting unanimously to pass the business corridor overlay designation for the strip of Lorraine from Clark Road to State Road 681.
At the same meeting, commissioners also voted unanimously to approve a major extension of Lakewood Ranch termed "Lakewood Ranch Southeast," allowing the development of 5,000 homes on 4,120 acres generally between University Parkway and Fruitville Road and east of Lorraine Road.
About 30 people showed up to the meeting to oppose the possible designation of Lorraine Road from Fruitville Road north to Blue Lake Road as a business corridor overlay that would have allowed light industrial and office uses. Commissioners also received dozens of letters in opposition to the possible move.
Maio said after extensive discussions with individuals on both sides of the issue, he had made the decision to alter the proposal.
Nonetheless, he said he would still "fiercely defend" business corridors in other areas of the county.
"The group was very happy that they approved the amendment," said Jacob Goodwin, an organizer of those opposed to allowing light industrial and office uses on Lorraine Road in Lakewood Ranch. "We've been calling for the elimination of the overlay north of Fruitville for months now, and we think the commission made the right decision."
The corridor along Lorraine Road already had been reduced in size during a Aug. 30 meeting, when an amendment removed a section of Lorraine Road running roughly from Blue Lake Road to University Parkway.
Colleen Blumenthal, who owns Blumenberry Farms on Dog Kennel Road with her husband Mitch, said a combined effort of residents to inform commissioners of their objections to the possible rezone made the difference.
"I am so grateful," she said. "Now I can just worry about the weather."
Blumenberry Farms was heavily damaged by Hurricane Ian, but Colleen Blumenthal said she was more worried about the effects on allowing light industrial development on her farm.
"Our crops are all in now, and we're ready to tock and roll," she said.