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By Robert Connors
Managing Editor 

Monday Land Use Meeting CANCELLED

Lake Wales Study Covers Entire Area With Proposed Future Uses

 

Last updated 9/27/2022 at 7:31am

Courtesy City of Lake Wales

The public is encouraged to attend an important forum intended to shape desired future land uses throughout the Lake Wales Utility Service Area of more than 100 square miles.

UPDATE: Due to the anticipated arrival of storm-force winds this week, the City of Lake Wales has cancelled the Land Use Study Workshop planned for tonight (Monday). Also cancelled are planned City Commission workshop and the Planning and Zoning meetings this week. LakeWalesNews.net will update meeting schedules when they are announced.

A major city initiative that may influence future development patterns throughout the Lake Wales area will be the subject of a public workshop Monday evening, September 26.

According to a city press release, "the purpose of the Land Use Study is to provide an assessment of the utility service area surrounding Lake Wales...for future annexations requested by property owners." The event will begin at 6:00 pm at the James Austin Center, 315 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. and will include a presentation to city commissioners.

The study was commissioned by the commission in late February and will propose development patterns and usages for large swaths of surrounding Polk County properties, stretching from Lake Ashton to North Crooked Lake Drive, and from west of Warner University to Lake Pierce.

All that territory is included within the city's declared utility service area, which was codified earlier this month. This event may provide an opportunity for resident input into the plans.

The study, conducted by S&ME, began with a survey that divided the entire area into a grid and offered residents an opportunity to suggest what sort of development should be encouraged there. S&ME specializes in geotechnical, environmental, civil, planning and construction services. The scope of services includes stakeholder engagement, land use scenarios and land use plan.

Options offered to responders included:

• Single-family residential homes (site built detached homes, townhomes)

• High density residential developments (apartments or condominiums)

• Mixed-use developments (residential, commercial and/or office uses together)

• Commercial/retail/office developments (shopping, hair salon, grocery store, offices, personal services)

• Industrial developments (manufacturing, warehousing, distribution)

• Agriculture (farms, groves)

There was no option offered for greenways, parks, preserves, or other environmental land uses.

News staff

The entire utility service area identified by commission action last month, demarked by the red boundary lines, is also included in the Land Use Study proposals which will be presented for discussion Monday night at the James Austin Center.

The project team will present recommended land use scenarios based on information collected through public engagement and the online survey.

The land use plan will also be used as a basis for future infrastructure planning for utilities and transportation. City staff may share the land use plan with the county for consideration of a joint planning agreement.

"We should take full advantage of being in a seller's market," Deputy Mayor Robin Gibson said at the time the study was approved. "We'll work with those folks who are willing to counter urban sprawl with quality growth for an authentic town with a historic center and a priority for protecting its distinct character," Gibson said.

"The land use plan is key to the growth of Lake Wales," City Manager James Slaton said. "We will know what land areas to protect, and the land areas suitable for development as it relates to a land owner requesting property annexation.".

 

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