First Phase of Clear Springs To Include 10,000 Homes, Town Center Shopping Area

December 11, 2008

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p>Development plans for the first 7,600 acres of Clear Springs Land Co. property, to include nearly 10,000 homes, a Town Center shopping development, and enough industrial and commercial activity to provide nearly 8,000 jobs, was approved by the Bartow Zoning Board on Monday.

In development terms, it’s called a detailed specific area plan, and it is the next step in the planned 30-year development of the more than 17,000 acres of Clear Springs property.

The detailed specific area plan — DSAP for short — begins to provide details for the “optional sector plan” approved earlier this year that set forth the general concept for the Clear Springs development.

The initial 7,600 acres selected for development are east of U.S. Highway 17 and the Peace River. “This becomes the future land use plan,” Planning Dir. Robert Wiegers told the board. “The end point will be development of a community, another part of Bartow.”

Build-out of this phase is expected to take 10 years, with most of the construction taking place in the second five years.
The next step in the development plan will be zoning changes and commercial site plans, Wiegers said.

“This is the second step in a process that still has a long way to go.”

The plan calls for 9,998 dwelling units on 2,639 acres.

It is the intent of Stan Phelps, the Greenwich, Conn., entrepreneur who bought the land and is overseeing development, that the project will provide jobs for people who live in it.

The property also includes the Polk Community College parcel on State Road 60 and commercial land uses near Bartow Municipal Airport.

The Clear Springs Town Center is planned just south of Connerville. Wiegers compared it to the sprawling Lakeside Village off Harden Boulevard in Lakeland

The concept is to complement Bartow’s existing commercial district, not to compete with it, Wiegers said.

Bartow’s water use permit has been increased by enough capacity to support the first phase of the Clear Springs development for 10 years, he said.

The city is planning an expansion to its wastewater treatment plant that will have the capacity to serve Clear Springs, he said.

Eventually, two new elementary schools and a new middle school will be needed to serve the development.

Additional police and fire personnel will be needed eventually to protect the area.

Georganne Ratliff, a planner for the Clear Springs development, said the detailed specific area plan begins the process of spelling out the development plans for the next 10 years. Several state agencies and the Central Florida Regional Planning Council will have 60 days to review the plans after they area submitted by the city. The final planning step will be rezoning of the parcels, Ms. Ratliff said.

Adam Carnegie, another planner, said the DSAP reserves sites for schools. There are 2,023 acres designated for industrial and commercial uses and a research industrial park. Carnegie said 7,938 jobs will be needed to support people living in the residential area.

Recreation and open space uses are allocated 440 acres, and 1,165 acres are designated as conservation lands, much of it along the banks of the Peace River.

Another 778 acres are designated as wetlands, and there are 563 acres of water bodies and 92 acres of greenways.
Paths and trails will be developed in the greenways, Carnegie said. The developer’s target for indoor use of potable water is 90 gallons per person per day. Part of the residential area will be set aside for “affordable housing.” Development will be low in the first five years, Carnegie said, as the planning process continues.

Pat Steed of the Central Florida Regional Planning Council said major issues addressed by the developer include natural resources, soil conditions, water resources, schools and public facilities, housing in a variety of types, fiscal impact on the city, transportation, airport compatibility, urban form that is complementary to the existing city, intergovernmental coordination, and public participation.

An array of federal, state, regional, and county agencies have been involved in the planning process. Transportation planning is a major consideration, Ms. Steed said, and a detailed transportation plan has been prepared.

Dan O’Neal, who lives just beyond the northeast corner of the Clear Springs property, was the only person who spoke at a public hearing on the DSAP.He expressed concern about the traffic impacts created by industrial development near his home. At present, the land is agricultural and woodlands, he said.

Zoning Board Member Cliff Daniels asked if future land development code changes in the city could be applied to the Clear Springs plan, noting wording in the DSAP that would appear to override any other city regulations.

Wiegers said he believes that much of what goes into the Clear Springs planning will be incorporated into code changes that the city will make.

Carnegie said the intent of the language is to ensure that higher standards proposed by Clear Springs will not be overridden by less restrictive standards in the city code.

The zoning board voted unanimously to recommend to the city commission that the plan be approved.

The board also recommended adoption of a comprehensive plan amendment to correct an omission in the earlier adoption of the Clear Springs optional sector plan and to clarify and correct other wording.

The city commission will act on the recommendations at its Dec. 15 meeting.

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