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Lindvest Fruitville development discussed in neighborhood workshop

SARASOTA -- When Naomi Litvin moved to eastern Sarasota County five years ago, she wanted to live in a more rural area.

Litvin, who lives in The Founders Club, expressed concerns with a proposed 450-acre housing development called Lindvest Fruitville at a neighborhood workshop Tuesday at Tatum Ridge Baptist Church in Sarasota.

While Litvin said she isn't necessarily against development, she doesn't want it to harm existing residents.

"I don't think people who moved here would like to live across from a shopping center," Litvin said of the 100,000-square-foot retail and commercial space proposed to be built at Fruitville Road. "I think you are going to have more people than you believe up in arms. This is not what we contemplated when we came out to this part of the world, when we came out this far east of the interstate."

Litvin was one of about 30 people attending the workshop on the Lindvest Fruitville project at Fruitville Road and Dog Kennel Road in eastern Sarasota County.

The project, which would have 900 dwelling units, one village center and five neighborhood centers, will now go before the Sarasota County Planning Commission in a public hearing followed by two public hearings at the Sarasota County Commission at dates to be determined.

The developer, Toronto-based Lindvest and planner Kimley Horn of Sarasota, is seeking a Comprehensive Plan amendment to modify the Sarasota 2050 Plan for growth in addition to a petition to change its zoning to village. The Lindvest Fruitville project, which will take roughly a decade to build, would be south of the Villages of Lakewood Ranch South and north of Fruitville Road.

Lindvest representatives at the meeting were unable to say how much homes in the development would cost.

"It is reasonable to say what things are selling for in Lakewood Ranch would be market value for homes," said Bill Waddill of Kimley Horn.

As Lakewood Ranch continues developing south into Sarasota County, roadway improvements such as extending Lakewood Ranch Boulevard to Fruitville Road and extending Lorraine Road on the border of Lindvest Fruitville to the east, will also benefit the proposed development, said Kelley Klepper, a planner at Kimley Horn.

"It is a significant roadway network that we are going to be tying into and complementing with roadway and trails," Klepper said.

About 43 percent of the development would be open space.

Many neighboring residents expressed concerns with the project, including adding more traffic on Fruitville Road from the development's main entrance.

Homeowner Cindy Harney Bales, who has lived off Dog Kennel Road for more than 25 years, said she is looking forward to the connecting road to ease traffic on Fruitville Road and be able to more easily access Lakewood Ranch.

"It is kind of a no-brainer," she said of the project. "We are finally stepping up to Lakewood Ranch's expertise. Nothing but a positive thing. It is going to raise people's property values."

Lindvest, which specializes in master-planned communities in Canada, purchased the Fruitville property in 2008 for about $20.6 million from G&T Land Development LLC in Sarasota, according to property records.

Claire Aronson, University Parkway/Sarasota reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024 or at caronson@bradenton.com. Follow her on Twitter@Claire_Aronson.

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