Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Strong opinions on proposed apartments

Residents of Lake Sarasota and other areas adjacent to a 39-acre parcel on the Mauna Loa Extension expressed their opposition to a plan that calls for putting 15 three-story buildings on the land, with 22 rental units per building.

Stephen Rees, attorney for the developer who is seeking rezoning to residential multifamily (nine units per acre) from the county, outlined the plan Tuesday evening at a neighborhood workshop.

Among the concerns voiced:

"You're going to kill my property value," one Lake Sarasota resident said, after Rees explained that some undetermined portion of the apartments might fall under the "affordable housing" designation.

"'Affordable' gives you latitude and gives us nothing," said a woman who lives on McKown Rd., which runs north of the project.

Residents along McKown spoke about noise, light, and the abrupt juxtaposition of the apartments to their five-acre estates, some of which include horses, barns and stables.

Residents of Lake Sarasota talked about traffic intensity on Bee Ridge Road, and also about impacts on roads within Lake Sarasota that could become conduits between Bee Ridge and Proctor Road. Bee Ridge traffic is already so intense that the road fails to meet county standards, according to Joe O'Hara of the Bee Ridge Neighborhoods Committee.

Rees said a consultant is doing a traffic study. He also indicated that both the primary and secondary entrances to the apartments would open onto the Mauna Loa extension.

O'Hara stated that his group, which represents neighborhood associations along Bee Ridge east of I-75, wants to see the county dedicate tax monies to widen and landscape the Bee Ridge Corridor before it would support further development along the road.

Rees noted that the county might be more readily persuaded to devote dollars to the Bee Ridge Corridor if projects like his client's apartments supported it.

Which leads to a chicken-and-egg predicament: Bee Ridge Corridor improvement might benefit from the support of developers, but developers say neighborhoods first need to support their plans.

Many of the 40 or so residents at the workshop asked Rees to consider scaling back the complex -- reducing the density, and the height, of the structures. Rees said his client will be looking for ways to find common ground for compromise. If his client does consider any changes to the proposal, residents and those who attended the workshop will be notified, he added.

Stay tuned.

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