Commission Workshop Hears Multiple Housing Development Project Proposals
New Subdivisions and Annexations Mark North, East and South of City
Last updated 3/19/2022 at 10:24am
Several new large-scale residential developments took shape in presentations heard by the Lake Wales City Commission during their Wednesday workshop, at which only three commissioners were present. The poor attendance at two meetings this week prompted complaints from Mayor Eugene Fultz.
The rapid growth of Lake Wales in the face of multiple large-scale development projects has concerned many citizens as judged by questions submitted at recent elections forums. The latest wave of proposals is only likely to amplify those concerns.
Mayor Fultz, Deputy Mayor Robin Gibson and Commissioner Terrye Howell listened and asked questions as Development Services staff explained the details of the Belleview Drive subdivision, planned for the west side of south 11th Street at the site of the historic Dopler railroad fruit depot. It will straddle Belleview Avenue and border the Mid-Florida Railroad line, and feature 155 single-family homes. The adjacent Whispering Ridge will soon see construction of a new phase, while the 600-unit Hunt Club North project will be built nearby on the east side of 11th Street.
Receiving a name for the first time is the proposed "Grove at Orchard Hills." It will occupy 236.57 acres south Of Belleview Drive, east of South Scenic Highway, and north Of Passion Play Road. It is expected to contain several hundred homes. It adjoins the Belleview Drive project west of 11th Street, and the two will feature an interconnected trail system.
Commissioners also heard an update concerning more than 97 acres of ground, known as "Forest Lake" on the north side of town adjacent to the Eagle Ridge Mall, Carlsberg Estates and Chalet Suzanne Road. Owners are requesting a change of zoning from C-2, a commercial designation, to R-3, which will allow a variety of residential types including townhomes, apartments, and single-family homes, according to Development Services staff. That project may also have access to Scenic Highway via Hickory Hammock Road, depending upon final configuration of the site plan.
City staff pointed out that the Future Land Use Map (FLUM) designated the property as RAC, or regional activity center, but that is no longer considered a viable use.
The commissioners attending also heard details of a request to designate zoning for approximately 29.94 acres owned by the Story Family Limited Partnership, LLC. That recently-annexed parcel lies behind the Duke Energy district maintenance facility on North Scenic Highway. It borders Old Scenic Highway. The request would rezone it from Polk County's designation of Agriculture/ Rural Rated to C-3, which will allow a mix of housing types. City staff touted the site as particularly suited for townhomes. Staff is recommending an R-3 designation and expect it to be presented as a Planned Development Project (PDP).
Two annexations were also reviewed, the first of which, 208 acres owned by French company Gardinier, is being touted as a potential upscale "resort" housing development. It lies north of Masterpiece Road and east of Scenic Highway. Tuesday will be the second reading of the annexation, finalizing it.
The commission also heard the proposed annexation of 30 acres owned by Trinity Baptist Church, which is also anticipated for housing. That parcel is already surrounded by homes, lying just west of the Lake Wales Country Club and east of Evergreen Road, with frontage on SR 60.