Opportunities for residential tax diversification crossed a new threshold last week in Sumter County.

The Sumter County Commission unanimously approved a 30-year development agreement that permits The Villages to develop a 431-acre industrial-commercial property within the Florida Crossroads Industrial Activity Center south of Wildwood and east of Interstate 75.

In a previous action, the commission approved a rezoning application that will allow up to 1.75 million square feet of industrial-commercial space on the 431-acre site.

Now preparing to begin site work, The Villages becomes the first active development in this 4,000-acre growth corridor that county economic development officials think could produce up to 20,000 new jobs over the next 10 years or so.

While enthusiastic about the potential for job growth, Commissioner Doug Gilpin considers the industrial development agreement a critical step forward in diversifying the county’s tax base and therefore reducing the tax burden on residential homeowners.

Because of growth in The Villages, Gilpin said, the commission proposed a 2018-19 property tax rate at the rolled-back rate — the legislative definition of what constitutes a tax decrease. It will be the 14th consecutive year the commission set the tax rate at or below the rolled-back rate.

The new activity in the industrial activity center creates opportunities for the commission to consider future tax cuts, because industrial-commercial produces more tax revenue than the residential development sector, Gilpin said.

“When you get industry to participate, it keeps residential taxes low,” he said.

Also: The Villages’ efforts to expand the active adult lifestyle south of State Road 44 earned a solid endorsement last week at the Wildwood City Commission meeting. In two related actions, commissioners unanimously approved large-scale master plan and zoning map amendments to permit multi-use age-restricted development on the 5,664 acres that the Developer purchased earlier this year in an area about three miles south of Warm Springs Avenue, formerly County Road 468, east of CR 501, west of Florida’s Turnpike and to the south of CR 470. Also: Wildwood commissioners approved site plans for two new Villages south of State Road 44. One of the site plans proposes up to 1,400 dwelling units on 450 acres about a half-mile southeast of Warm Springs and about one-quarter mile north of the turnpike. The other site plan proposes up to 200 dwelling units on about 98 acres at the northeast corner of Warm Springs and the turnpike.

Also: Wildwood commissioners approved three new plats for neighborhoods within the Village of Marsh Bend, a community west of the turnpike.


David R. Corder is a senior writer with The Villages Daily Sun. He can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5241, or david.corder@thevillagesmedia.com.