MANATEE -- Manatee County commissioners today are slated to review a controversial development proposal for the Lakewood Ranch area that their advisory body, the Planning Commission, has recommended for denial.
Schroeder-Manatee Ranch Inc.'s "University Lakes" project calls for a zoning-ordinance change that would allow multifamily housing up to seven stories on a parcel in Lakewood Ranch overlooking Lake Uihlein and the Town Center. No structures in Lakewood Ranch currently exceed four stories, and residents who live in the development across the lake at WaterCrest Condominiums and elsewhere are concerned approval of a high-rise building would set a precedent for more to come. The proposed change would affect the entire University Lakes area, which comprises more than 4,100 acres of SMR-owned property, located northeast of University Parkway, south of State Road 70 and about six miles east of Interstate 75. Residents, whose homes overlook Lake Uihlein and the University Lakes parcel, have showered commissioners with emails opposing the plan.
One from Kathleen Grant accused SMR chief Rex Jensen of making "misstatements" and using "incorrect facts," adding: "SMR's application is not about urbanization, or so-called affordable housing -- it is about greed, pure and simple."
The county planning staff is recommending approval.
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"They're asking approval for two additional stories on the Town Center property to build multifamily," explained planner Shelley Hamilton Wednesday. "They could actually build a 10-story hotel there."
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.