Schroeder-Manatee Ranch's CEO Rex Jensen to discuss growth, safety and traffic congestion during presentation to Lakewood Ranch Jewish Club Sunday

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- As residential and commercial growth continues in Lakewood Ranch, residents of the master-planned community want answers and assurances developers have their best interests at heart.

Schroeder-Manatee Ranch Chief Executive Officer Rex Jensen will address the Jewish Club at Lakewood Ranch at 7 p.m. Sunday at Lakewood Ranch Town Hall.

Jensen's presentation is called "A Glimpse into the Future of Lakewood Ranch." Topics include the rapid development of Lakewood Ranch, public safety, transportation congestion and maintaining the community's green and energy-efficient elements.

Jensen has agreed to a question-and-answer period following the presentation more than 100 residents are expected to attend.

Originally, Manatee County District 5 Commissioner Vanessa Baugh was expected to co-host, but Manatee County's attorney instructed her not to do so in light of an upcoming commission vote in November on allowing a condominium project near Main Street taller than the five-story building limitation.

Founded in 2009 by a group of six, the Lakewood Ranch Jewish Club has grown in proportion to the growing Jewish community in the Sarasota/Manatee county areas, according to President Leonard Drexler, who said Lakewood Ranch is clearly now a meaningful center of Jewish life.

Drexler, who lives in the Country Club section of Lakewood Ranch, said he's hoping Jensen will talk about issues facing Lakewood Ranch residents, businesses and employees.

"I didn't envision the new mall coming, but I did talk to Rex when the community was first forming, and he said there would be about 35,000 homes at some point. I was prepared for a really large community and I was also knowledgeable that it included a large amount of area besides single family residential space," Drexler said. He said he moved to Lakewood Ranch from Atlanta after visiting friends in the area.

Jensen will also discuss adding amenities such as a new space for resident and club events besides Town Hall, which has limited meeting areas, and the Polo Grill Restaurant & Bar in the Main Street shopping center,

Drexler said traffic congestion anticipated by growth and the future reconfiguration of the University Parkway-Interstate 75 interchange will be a major topic of discussion.

"Even without the new mall opening this month, there are traffic problems when the various companies let their employees out at the end of the day on Market Street, Lakewood Ranch Boulevard and University Parkway. I know that Manatee County doesn't have a lot of control with the mall, however, the county should have had some say in the approval and occupancy documentation of the mall, as well as the building of more access roads in the area," Drexler said. "Those roads should be open today so we can alleviate potential traffic when the mall does open."

The event is open to the public, however, Town Hall only seats about 110 people.

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