Commission workshop hears several proposals for housing development projects
Several new large-scale residential developments took shape in presentations heard by the Lake Wales City Commission at their Wednesday workshop, at which only three commissioners were present. Low attendance at two meetings this week prompted complaints from Mayor Eugene Fultz.
The rapid growth of Lake Wales in the face of multiple large-scale development projects has many citizens concerned, judging by questions submitted in recent election forums. The latest wave of proposals will likely only amplify these concerns.
Mayor Fultz, Deputy Mayor Robin Gibson and Commissioner Terrye Howell listened and asked questions as Developmental Services staff explained details of the Belleview Drive subdivision, planned for the west side of South 11th Street. It will straddle Belleview Avenue and border the Mid-Florida Railroad line, and will include 155 single-family homes. The adjacent Whispering Ridge will soon see construction of a new phase, while the 600-unit Hunt Club North project will be built nearby on the east side of 11th Street.
Receiving a name for the first time is the “Grove at Orchard Hills” project. It will occupy 236.57 acres south of Belleview Drive, east of South Scenic Highway and north of Passion Play Road. It should contain several hundred dwellings. It adjoins the Belleview Drive project west of 11th Street, and the two will feature an interconnecting trail system.
Commissioners also heard an update regarding more than 97 acres of land, known as “Forest Lake” on the north side of town, adjacent to the Eagle Ridge Mall, Carlsberg Estates and Chalet Suzanne Road. Homeowners are requesting a zoning change from C-2, a commercial designation, to R-3, which will allow for a variety of residential types, including townhouses, apartments and single-family homes, according to Departmental Services staff. development. This project may also have access to the Scenic Highway via Hickory Hammock Road, depending on the final layout of the site plan.
City staff pointed out that the Future Land Use Map (FLUM) designated the property as a RAC, or Regional Activity Center, but that is no longer considered a viable use.
Commissioners present also heard details of an application for zoning designation for approximately 29.94 acres owned by Story Family Limited Partnership, LLC. This newly annexed parcel is behind the Duke Energy District Maintenance Facility on the North Scenic Highway. It borders Old Scenic Highway. The application would rezone it from the Polk County Agricultural/Rural designation to C-3, which will allow for a mix of housing types. City staff presented the site as particularly suitable for townhouses. Staff recommends an R-3 designation and expects it to be submitted as a Planned Development Project (PDP).
Two annexations have also been considered, the first of which, 208 acres owned by French company Gardinier, is being touted as a potential high-end “resort” housing development. It is north of Masterpiece Road and east of Scenic Highway. Tuesday will take place the second reading of the annexation, finalizing it.
The commission also heard the proposed annexation of 30 acres belonging to Trinity Baptist Church, which is also planned for housing. This plot is already surrounded by houses, located just west of the Lake Wales Country Club and east of Evergreen Road, with frontage on SR 60.