Clear Springs Plan Moving Forward

January 10, 2009

Development plans for the first 7,606 acres of the approximately 17,600 acres of Clear Springs Land Co. property are moving through the series of regulatory approvals required for what will be the largest single development in Bartow’s history.

In development terms, the city commission has approved the “detailed specific area plan.” The Clear Springs project is one of five authorized by the Legislature to be processed under a new development concept called an “optional sector plan.”

Most of the land is east of U.S. Highway 17.

A centralized Town Center commercial area will serve residents of the area. The purpose is to serve those residents, and not to compete with existing businesses, according to Planning Dir. Robert Wiegers.

Georgiann Ratliff of Wilson Miller, Inc., lead planner for the development, said the plan calls for a mixed use community, to include the Polk Community College corporate campus, a research corporate park, industrial development, residential areas, commercial services, schools and parks, recreation and open space, and agricultural operations.

Adam Carnegie, a planner with Wilson Miller, said the research corporate park will have 478 acres. Within that parcel will be the PCC corporate college training center.

A parcel of 1,365 acres is designated for industrial development.

The commercial parcels comprise 180 acres, 77 acres of it in the Town Center.

The plan designates 440 acres of recreation and open space, with 778 acres of wetlands and 563 acres of water bodies.

Conservation lands embrace 1,165 acres.

The plan calls for greenways and bicycle and pedestrian trails.

Residential development will cover 2,639 acres.

The plan sets aside 77 acres for two schools.

The project will have 21.27 miles of roadways.

Construction of the first phase is projected to take 10 years.

Population of the first phase of the Clear Springs development is projected at 6,300.

The development is estimated to create 7,900 jobs, Carnegie told the commission.

Ultimately, the developers project the population of the entire Clear Springs area to be about 21,000.

Except for PCC Corporate College, the first five years will be devoted primarily to planning, engineering, and zoning, Carnegie said.

Pat Steed, executive director of the Central Florida Regional Planning Council, said special attention was given to ensuring that land uses next to Bartow Municipal Airport will be compatible with the airport.

At a public hearing on the plan, Gerald Cochran predicted “more problems than these people are talking about down the road.”

He said the project will put a strain on the area’s water supply, especially downstream on the Peace River.

He asked who would maintain the roads after they are built.

Cochran also asked how the development would affect the city’s tax base.

Mayor James F. Clements said that would depend on values set by the county property appraiser.

Betty Lattimore, who lives on 80 Foot Road, said people who live in her neighborhood moved there to escape residential encroachment.

She said she would like to see more agricultural use in the area.

Carnegie said most of the agricultural area is south of Bartow.

Smaller agricultural parcels will be located in other areas, he said.

Pete Hubbel of Water Resource Associates said the Clear Springs development will not reduce the quantity or quality of water to the south.

Commissioner Wayne Lewis commended the developer for seeking public input into its planning.

“We look forward to continuing to work with y’all,” Mayor James F. Clements told the Clear Springs development team.

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