New rule bans children from playing in street in Lakewood Ranch neighborhood

srocco@bradenton.comDecember 20, 2013 

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- After school and into the evening, kids who live in the Miramar townhomes can be found zipping a football, riding bikes or scooters and congregating on Miramar Way, the only road that runs through the 172-home community.

But neighborhood kids could be forced elsewhere after Miramar's homeowners association approved a measure to ban children from playing in the street, citing safety concerns.

Miramar is situated right off University Parkway about three miles east of Interstate 75. Half of the homes border the Legacy Golf Club.

"The board wants to keep children from playing in the street so they don't get run over by a car," said Mat Wilson of AMI Advanced Management, the management company that oversees the Miramar community. "There's other grassy areas that they can play in. They don't need to be playing in the street."

In addition, some kids are putting ramps in the road to jump off with their bikes and skateboards, which impedes traffic, Wilson added.

Calls to HOA board members Jennifer Tobias and Tony Olender were not returned Thursday.

Resident Anne Sofie Hait is disappointed with the HOA's decision. After all, her 7-year-old son looks forward to throwing around a football with friends after school.

"With obesity being a huge problem in the United States, it's really nice to have an area where kids can play," she said. "It's only residents that are coming through here. It's not a busy road."

The Miramar homes don't have front yards. Much of the space is swallowed by driveways, sidewalk and bushes. Behind each building is a wide, grassy area perfect for playing football.

But Hait said she received an email from AMI a month ago stating that kids are discouraged from playing there as it could disturb residents' privacy, forcing her son out front and onto the street.

"I think this is the most ludicrous thing I've ever heard of," she said. "It's just a couple of hours a day."

Resident Mike Roteman disagrees. He says children have plenty of other playtime options.

"We have a huge clubhouse with a swimming pool and there's three or four different playgrounds and parks nearby in Lakewood Ranch," he said.

Roteman said he doesn't mind if kids play in the open areas behind the buildings.

Although the board approved the rule, it hasn't been implemented yet, Wilson said. The board will host a town hall meeting with residents to discuss the measure and gather feedback. A date and time is still to be determined.

Sabrina Rocco, East Manatee reporter, can be reached at (941) 745-7024. Follow @sabrinarocco on Twitter.

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