Clear Springs ‘Sector Plan,’ Metro on Main Development, Approved by Commission

September 24, 2008

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p>A hearing on the largest development in Bartow history drew little public interest Monday night, but a 1.4-acre mixed use development on West Main Street at Mill Avenue drew skeptical comments from two neighbors.

Bartow city commissioners approved both, along with several other planning and zoning actions.

First to be approved was Metro on Main, a planned development with retail, office, and residential uses, including a restaurant, on a vacant parcel of land at Main and Mill.

William Likely, II, president of Nu-Era Construction, and Jahi Wright, chief operating officer, outlined plans for the project.

The development “will be sensitive” to downtown Bartow’s historic heritage, Likely said.

Lofts will be built on upper floors over the businesses.

Two buildings will be built in two phases, Likely said: the first facing Main Street, the second behind the first.

Wright said either pre-engineered metal buildings, masonry construction, or a combination could be built on the site.

Likely said it will take several months to get all the permits for the project, and another year to build it.

Matt Kovschak, an attorney for adjoining landowners, expressed concern abut the stormwater runoff. The city should monitor stormwater permits, he said.

He said the underground stormwater system proposed for the development could cost half as much as the construction itself.

Flooding on the property already is a problem, he said.

He also said the increased traffic generated by the project “is begging for disaster.”

Likely called on Sara Case, an engineer for the project, to talk about the drainage process.

She said the Southwest Florida Water Management District will not allow the developer to create a drainage problem.

Kelly B. Hardwick, whose law office is across the street from the development, said his main concern is that the site is the lowest acreage in the area, and that flooding sometimes requires blocking of traffic on Main Street.

He questioned the ability of underground “drainage chambers” to handle stormwater runoff.

He urged the commission to make issuance of SWFWMD permits a condition of the development.

Ms. Case said the issue before the commission was zoning, and that the city will not issue a building permit until SWFWMD approves the project.

Commissioner Pat Huff called the development “a pretty innovative project.”

Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the rezoning.

Hampton Inn
Commissioners approved a comprehensive plan amendment and rezoning requested by Ashley Glen Corp. for the site of a Hampton Inn hotel and adjoining office and retail development on Old Eagle Lake Road at Wilson Avenue.

Ms. Case said the Hampton Inn will be an 89-room hotel. Tenants for the commercial outparcel have not been identified.

Robert Leynes said he has a problem with the main entrance being on Old Eagle Lake Road. He said it should be from Wilson Avenue.

Ms. Case said the Bartow city staff would not permit an entrance from Wilson Avenue, and that a Tampa Electric Co. easement across the property also would prohibit access from Wilson Avenue.

Commissioner Adrian Jackson also expressed concerns over the entrance location.

Commissioners voted unanimously to pass the ordinances.

Clear Springs
Approved without opposition from the audience was the Clear Springs Land Co. “optional sector plan conceptual overlay,” changing zoning on its property from phosphate mining, the designation under the Polk County zoning code, to agricultural use under Bartow’s zoning.

Clear Springs owns 17,676 acres of property – most of it reclaimed phosphate land – which stretches from Bartow Municipal Airport north of Bartow, going down the east side of the city, and wrapping around the south side of town.

Planning Dir. Robert Wiegers said the plan sets forth “guiding principles” for the development. The agricultural designation will be changed as each element of the plan is implemented.

It is one of only five “optional sector plans” authorized by the Legislature for large-scale developments in Florida, Wiegers said.

Georgianne Ratliff of WilsonMiller, one of the project planners, said a parcel of 200 acres has been deleted from the plan because of a question over ownership of that acreage.

She said that “good mixed use communities” will be developed, with residential, retail and office uses.

Neighborhoods will be connected by “greenways” with a minimum housing density of three homes per acre.

Parks and recreation lands will be set aside.

Commissioner Adrian Jackson asked about water to serve the development.

Pete Hubbell, who developed the water management plan for Clear Springs, said that 2.5 million gallons per day will be needed in the first 10 years of a planned 20-year build-out.

A “dual line system” to supply water to the property will be installed, with one line used to allow for reuse water for irrigation.

John Anderson, who lives in Connersville, said Clear Springs “is being a good neighbor to our community.”

The company has held community meetings to keep people aware of what is planned, and has completed reclamation along 91 Mine Road, he said.

The company furnished heavy equipment and manpower to do work on property of First Baptist Church of Lake Garfield, he said.

“We appreciate them as neighbors,” he said.

Wiegers thanked Pat Steed of the Central Florida Regional Planning Council for that agency’s help with the Clear Springs plan.

Commissioners unanimously approved the plan.

School Sites
Commissioners approved a comp plan amendment and rezoning of school board property from residential to institutional for the balance of the land at Summerlin Academy on the southeast corner of the Bartow High School campus.

Bill Read told commissioners the land is in the 100-year floodplain.

A similar comp plan amendment was approved on the campus of the new Spessard Holland Elementary School on U.S. Highway 98 north of Bartow.

Lyle Parkway
Commissioners passed an ordinance rezoning 104 acres of land on Lyle Parkway from agricultural to low density residential and classifying 16 acres of wetlands as conservation lands.

The land is owned by Jack and Bet James, who have said they have no immediate plans for development.

The plan calls for a maximum density of 2.9 units per acre.

Tracy Mullins, a consultant for the owners, said the change would be the “highest and best use” for the property.

Water Supply Plan
Commissioners also approved incorporation of the city’s 10-year water supply plan into the comprehensive plan.

No expansion of the city’s water treatment plant will be needed for at least five years, Wiegers said. That need will have to be studied on an annual basis beginning in 2013, he said.

The city now has a permit to pump 4.4 million gallons per day, while the plant has the capacity to pump 8 million gallons per day, he said.

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