Lakewood Ranch districts challenge Balmoral Boulevard gatehouse closure

dgraham@bradenton.comApril 18, 2013 

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Resistance to the proposed closure of Balmoral Boulevard's public access is growing among superintendents from Community Development District 5, serving Country Club, and District 2, serving Country Club and Edgewater, leading up to today's meetings.

While control of the gate rests solely with District 6, serving Country Club West, traffic flow and access throughout the subdivisions requires cooperation among the districts. If Balmoral's gate house is no longer staffed, that means all public traffic, including service vehicles, will have to enter through Legacy Gate.

"Don't we get a vote in this?" District 2 Superintendent Marty Cohn asked at Monday's workshop.

"Each one of the sections of the country club had their gate used until their area was constructed. It's only fair they have the construction vehicles going through Balmoral Gate until their construction is complete," said Tom Green, District 2 superintendent and Inter-District Authority representative.

Executive Director Eva Rey said the Balmoral gate "gets most of the construction traffic within the Country Club because generally vendors come from the north. It's not just District 6 construction that's using the Balmoral gate. They get most of the construction traffic within, even if it's renovation."

"It just seems the country club was designed with two staff gates and that's how it works today," said Alan Silverglat, District Five superintendent.

"There's a need for more than one access at that point. That was the intent at the time of the approval," said Rex Jensen, president of Lakewood Ranch developer Schroeder-Manatee Ranch, "It was designed to have Legacy Gate. Players Gate was closed at that time."

As far as Balmoral, Jensen said, "That's up to the county and the community to decide now. It's not my call, It's theirs."

Manatee County requires adequate public access protocol, 24-hour access to the area from one entrance and access for emergency services.

Attorney Richard Williams, superintendent for District 6, cited a similar situation in University Place and other past developments.

"This is the law that applies to the Balmoral gate, which has had transponder access only (from) 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. for the past seven years. All we are proposing is expanding those hours from eight to 24," Williams said.

No decision has been made. The boards meet in succession beginning at 9 a.m. with CDD2 followed by CDD5, CDD6 and the IDA.

Dee Graham, Herald reporter, cat be reached at 941-748-0411, ext. 7027, or tweet @DeeGrahamBH.

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