One element of the Lemon Bay Conservancy mission statement is “Advocating for sustainable environmental policies.” As the recent hurricane has so clearly reminded us, we live in a beautiful, but very fragile, area. Controlling the amount of new development is essential for protecting our wetlands, our life styles, and our area’s future.
There is an important upcoming hearing of the Charlotte County commission that directly links to protecting our environment. As described in the information below, Charlotte County is developing changes to the Comprehensive Plan that will set maximum density limits for the number of residential units per acre that will be allowed in all parts of Charlotte County west of the Myakka River. The current proposal is to limit maximum density to 15 units per acre, but there is also a very concerning “exception” that could allow densities on certain properties of up to 65 units per acre.
If you own property in West County, please take a few minutes to read the information below and review the actions you can take to express your opinions on this important matter to our Charlotte County commissioners.
Important Hearing About Density on the Cape Haze Peninsula
On February 28, 2023, the County Commissioners will consider a proposal to limit density on the Cape Haze Peninsula, which includes all of the County west of the Myakka, to 15 units/acre. This will affect all of West County, including Gulf Cove, South Gulf Cove, Englewood and Englewood East, Grove City, Rotonda and Placida. This is an important opportunity to let the County know how you feel.
Density is basically how many housing units will be allowed. Currently, most of the Peninsula is under 10/acre, though it appears there are some limited areas of 12 per acre. A limit of 15 is not ideal but may be a reasonable compromise and seems to be what the Commissioners are aiming for. But some development interests disagree with such limits and it is important for the Commissioners to hear from citizens. This is the culmination of the citizen roundtables on density which the County conducted last spring.
The central problem with the proposal is that it creates exceptions for certain areas where developers can ask for up to 65 units/acre. One is the former Fishery property in Placida which is currently at about 8/acre. Generally, the community has supported the developer proposal for the Fishery.
A second exception is for the proposed West County Town Center which covers 1300 acres at the corner of Gasparilla Road and 776. That property is currently allowed 3 units/acre. If it were allowed to ask for 65 per acre, it could mean over 80,000 units at this corner right before the Myakka Bridge, a chokepoint for evacuation. Most of the Cape Haze Peninsula is already in the Coastal High Hazard Area where storm surge is a great risk.
The Peninsula also has significant wetlands. Following the discovery of juvenile tarpon habitat at the Lemon Creek Wildflower Preserve it was realized that wetlands throughout the Peninsula have similar valuable habitat.
What can you do?
Please write your Commissioners and ask them to support a limit on Cape Haze Peninsula density, without exceptions. You can reach them by an email with reference to TCP 22-02 to Assistant@charlottecountyfl.gov. Ask that the email be sent to the Commissioners.
Come to the Hearing on February 28 at the County Commission building in Murdock, probably at 2 pm. Wear a red T-shirt to show your opposition to this proposal.