News-Sun photo by CHRISTOPHER TUFFLEY Carl Cool, of Carl Cool Engineering PA, presents a proposed new plan by the developers of Grand Oaks. It is to be built along the south end of Lake Damion.
published: Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Lake Damon residents wary of proposed development changes
By CHRISTOPHER TUFFLEY
AVON PARK -- A change of plans regarding the planned development of Grand Oaks has nearby residents there concerned. The slightly more than 47 acres of property lies between the south shore of Lake Damon and runs down to County Road 17 along Gaster Road.
The property is in the process of being rezoned from R-2 -- medium density, single family attached and duplexes -- to planned unit density, which provides flexibility as to the uses of the property.
Instead of the planned duplexes, the developers want to put in single-family residents along the lakeshore, then a ring of duplexes, and finally three assisted living buildings of 100 units a piece.
The major concern local residents regards traffic, although there are worries about the added number of people in the area, problems with lighting around the two-story assisted living buildings, and vermin attracted to the necessary dumpsters.
"Gaster Road is only 20 feet wide," said Michael Delany who owns groves along most of it. "All the (interior) roads converge at the railroad. We ask for an in-depth traffic study because there is only one way in and one out." He added the large citrus trucks would add to the difficulties during the picking season.
Sandra Billings, who was out of town and not at the meeting but had written to the council with her concerns, is also worried about the amount of traffic "from doctors, nurses, aides, family, clergy, clerical, kitchen, maintenance and repair staff.
"Gaster Road is a dead-end road and this could be hazardous with emergency vehicles. The traffic is already treacherous with the dip as soon as you come over the railroad track," she wrote.
The amount of traffic, in addition to being dangerous, would also raise the noise level of the quiet area throughout the day, she added.
Carl Cool, of Carl Cool Engineering PA, represented the developers at the meeting. He said the peak hours of the assisted livings complex would be different from the duplexes' so, "the net (traffic) change from duplexes to this is very minimal."
He said seven conditions had been attached to the zoning and planning commission's approval, and the developer was in complete agreement with them. "They are not going to delete any of those recommendations," Cool said. "They all came form public meetings and discussions. They are to be more accommodating to the neighbors." Cool said one of the seven conditions was to conduct a detailed traffic survey before any master plan was created or approved
He emphasized the issue before the city council was not approval of any specific plan, but simply the rezoning, a step that was necessary before a master plan could be created.
Mayor Sharon Schuler asked who would pay for road improvements if they had to be made.
Cool replied that if the development does not impact traffic no changes would be needed. However, if the changes created safety conditions, "the developer has to put in."
City council voted unanimously to pass the rezoning on the first reading.
This means the issue will be brought up for a second reading, at which time there will be a public hearing.
That is expected to be on July 30.
facts not opinions (by: fact checker - 7/20/2012)
The development will not be low-income. The assisted-living buildings will be the near the RR tracks. The rest of the duplex and single-family lots will be away from the tracks, inside a gated development, on a 288-acre lake. Hardly a low-income trashy site. It will be slightly more upscale than the current 88 home development directly across the street. And it will be a senior community, just like the 88-home development, and the residents of that development, as well as the owners of the property on one side the site, are in favor of the proposed plan, so i'm not sure which residents the person above is commenting about as far as residents being opposed to it, other than the grove owner and one property's 2 owners. Also, a successful pla, resulting in an occupied development, will bring in far greater taxes than an empty development. Finally, Gaster Rd was deemed sufficient for the original 127 homes or duplexes. This plan is removing 60 homes and replacing them with an assisted-living element(whose residents have almost no traffic impact) so even with the employees and related personnel of the assisted-living facility, the added traffic is about the same as the 60 homes that are no longer in the mix.
Options? (by: neighbor - 7/12/2012)
there is already a trailer on the property. The development was a flop on the onset and everyone is trying to recoup their losses. We are way better off with a professional looking building than the alternative of having another trashy neighborhood. Lets face it, no one will move or invest in an area right next to the rr tracks unless its low income. I welcome an ALF even if it doesnt pay taxes. I bet the trailer siting out there right now is worth less than what is needed to pay a dime in taxes.
The Grand Oaks on Lake Damon (by: UNANOMOUS - 7/11/2012)
The residences on and around Gaster Road thinks this is a horrible thing to do to the people that like the area. We don't need to add the single homes unless it is a Senior Community.
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