The Villages Daily Sun

Wildwood Backs Growth

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Posted: Tuesday, May 9, 2017 9:14 am | Updated: 2:42 pm, Wed May 17, 2017.

The Wildwood City Commission approved several key measures Monday evening that will make available The Villages active adult lifestyle to thousands of people for years to come.

Commission members voted unanimously in favor of an ordinance to add the Village of Southern Oaks to the city’s master plan.

In adopting the ordinance, the commission approved a land use amendment that redesignated Southern Oaks primarily for age-restricted residential use.

The commission also unanimously adopted a development agreement with The Villages Developer that will govern Southern Oaks over the next 30 years.

Pending final state approval, development could begin sometime within the next 30 days or so at Southern Oaks, an area containing 4,518 acres on the north, east, west and south sides of County Road 468 and Florida’s Turnpike. It’s boundary on the south and west of CR 468 abuts Fenney.

That acreage is part of the 8,000 acres and 14,000 homes that the Developer announced on Jan. 27 as part of a plan to expand The Villages south of State Road 44.

The two ordinances adopted Monday evening ensure Wildwood develops properly and in a quality manner, Mayor Ed Wolf said.

“Now, we have a known developer with a track record of working with the city, and we know what the end product will look like,” he said. “The end benefit for the residents is the city will realize a significant amount of revenue that will come into the city’s general fund unencumbered, and we can do what we need to do with it.”

Prior to approving the land use change, the commission unanimously rescinded the existing Southern Oaks development of regional impact, a regional planning designation.

The DRI previously authorized the prior land owner to develop thousands of single- and multifamily units and millions of square feet of industrial and commercial space.

Not only did city staff support the change from the DRI, Special Magistrate Archie Lowry Jr., serving as the city’s Planning & Zoning Board and Local Planning Agency, found evidence and testimony presented at a March 14 meeting as sufficient to recommend the commission approve the ordinance.

At a May 7 rezoning hearing, Melanie Peavy, the city’s development services director, and the city engineer, Richard Bush, of the engineering and consulting firm Kimley-Horn & Associates Inc., spoke about the sufficiency of the Southern Oaks traffic capacity.

Peavy advised at that meeting that the traffic analysis showed sufficiency with most of the traffic being contained internally.

Bush advised that Sumter County staff has completed the preliminary engineering study to widen CR 501, a feeder road into Fenney and

Southern Oaks.

The state also has started a project development and environmental study on widening CR 470, which connects CR 501 to Florida’s Turnpike and Interstate 75, Bush said.

In fact, the traffic analysis anticipated the Southern Oaks redesignation would reduce overall traffic impacts by 35 percent compared to the previous Southern Oaks DRI.

“In my opinion, it’s a well-planned transportation plan,” Bush said at the rezoning meeting. “I see a lot of roadway capacity there for development.”

In supporting the change, Peavy advised the commission that the Southern Oaks redesignation is consistent with the goals, objectives and policies of the city’s master plan, did not meet a state definition of urban sprawl and would not adversely affect transportation, potable water, sewer, schools or other public facilities.

So many people contributed to this effort that will enhance Wildwood’s long-term economic prosperity, Commissioner Joe Elliott said.

“In some cases, progress is measured in miles,” he said. “In other cases, it measured in acres. In this case, it’s measured by the hard work of a lot of people for the benefit of all of our residents — yesterday, today and certainly in the future.”