It was supposed to be a simple preliminary plat approval for the developers of Villages of Glen Creek, as the city’s largest housing development prepares to enter its next phase of construction at 2605 26th Ave. E.
What it turned into was a sometimes heated exchange between city staff and residents of Sugar Creek Estates. The mobile home park isn’t located near the development site, but that doesn’t matter much to flowing water looking for a destination and residents say it’s coming to them.
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“We are being flooded,” said Peter Vellenga, Sugar Creek resident, after being told that the complaints being made Wednesday were “12 years too late,” noted Planning and Community Development Director Catherine Hartley.
Sugar Creek residents submitted multiple pages of complaints, questions and concerns about a project planned in 2006 and is only beginning its second of several phases of construction in 2018. Traffic is also a concern to the residents, but flooding, “is the main concern,” said Ken Wilson, president of Sugar Creek’s homeowners association. “We are asking for information and to hear our position. We ask that you don’t approve it at this time because there are a number of items that need attention.”
Wednesday’s approval request was simply to lay out the lots for sale in the next phase, Hartley said. She said each phase that gets ready for sale and construction must go through an individual review that will include addressing drainage issues with both city staff and the Southwest Florida Water Management Agency at that time.
Hartley went as far as saying, “I guarantee the drainage will be addressed.”
Misty Servia, planning department manager for King Engineering for the project, said the 229-acre project has been in the planning stages for 15 years and, “I believe it’s a great project. The engineering intent is something that has been discussed and found to be acceptable already, but the details will be further analyzed and has to be in accordance with the city’s rules and regulations.”
Sugar Creek Estates sits outside the city limits, but Ward 4 Councilman Bemis Smith said it is the intent of the city, “To be a good neighbor.”
Smith offered to sit in on meetings with residents and staff to address the concerns. Vellenga said it should have never reached this point of contention.
“Staff has not talked to us, and this isn’t the way it should operate,” Vellenga said. “We shouldn’t have to have this conversation here. We had asked for this information beforehand and we’ve been ignored asking for specific information.”
The point I’m making today is that all of this testimony is irrelevant.
Planning and Community Development Director Catherine Hartley
Hartley said she assumed the residents and the developer’s engineers were discussing the concerns because the city’s hands were tied to the original 2006 planned development agreement. She agreed that Wednesday’s meeting was not the time or place for the discussion because it distracted from what the council was considering for approval.
“The time to do this would have been in 2006,” when the city annexed the property and approved the development, Hartley said. “I will be more than happy to meet with you folks. The point I’m making today is that all of this testimony is irrelevant.”
The two sides came together after a unanimous approval of the preliminary plat request. Hartley said the whole matter was a communication issue and pledged the city’s cooperation in resolving all issues associated with drainage problems whether it be from the development or not. Officials and residents could not say for sure that Village of Glen Creek was the originating source of the issue. Mayor Wayne Poston said whether it was the city’s problem to figure out or a nearby Manatee County development, “We’ll get involved.”