Wednesday, April 09, 2014

County will continue to have Spine for now

A public hearing on the fate of Spine Road resumed Wednesday, April 9. The head of County Transportation presented the County Commission with a detailed history showing that Spine Rd. was originally put in the County Comprehensive Plan in 1989, but as a straight line that, if built, would have run through existing homes, he said.

Spine Rd. was removed in 1992 from the plan, but it was later realigned and put back into the Comp Plan by a 4-1 vote of the 1996 County Commission. The Transportation Dept. feels the road is buildable and will be needed in the future, and recommended the County take no action to remove it. The developers of the Bee Ridge Park of Commerce (BRPOC) had requested the removal, prompting the hearing.

The Board took no action Wednesday, but may revisit the issue on May 21, at a final hearing on a proposed rezoning of the BRPOC.

Jonathan Paul went on to say that the concerns expressed by community residents of Lake Sarasota had some justification.

"I've driven it; their concerns are legitimate."

When connector roads are built, it's necessary to make sure residential communities are not negatively affected. Residents had asked the County to make sure Mauna Loa Blvd. south of Bee Ridge would not be re-classified to a major connector, as that would intensify traffic through the neighborhood, where children are always playing, and where people are walking or riding bicycles. 

"We have no intention of converting any portion of Mauna Loa Blvd or any road south of Bee Ridge into any high order road," he said. "Based on land use pattern today, [Lake Sarasota] is essentially built out,"

In the coming months, the County will hold a series of workshops or hearings on future plans for roads east of I-75 at which concerns of residents can be addressed, he added. Residents of Lake Sarasota, for example, could request that Mauna Loa Blvd. south of Bee Ridge be given a status that would further discourage pass-through traffic. It’s inappropriate to see it as a continuation of an artery, he added.

"If the board directs us, we can require further analysis to make sure there's no impact south of Bee Ridge."

At a hearing on May 21, 9 a.m., the developers will seek final approval to rezone a portion of the BRPOC to Community Neighborhood. At that hearing, they will likely again raise the issue of Spine Road, which they wish to remove in order to accommodate road access to the future Racetrac gas station planned for their site, opposite the main entrance to Lake Sarasota. The Transportation Dept. has opposed the a median cut in N. Mauna Loa because it could create danger points for traffic.

Interestingly, Spine Road at the hearing was called "North Mauna Loa Boulevard." Should it perhaps be given another name?

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