Rarely does a first reading of an ordinance receive so much debate, but a proposed new housing development in East Bradenton was the exception at Wednesday’s city council meeting.
The project would be built at 4915 First Ave. E., the last piece of undeveloped acreage in an area of the city that has seen a growth spurt off 48th Street Court East and State Road 64. The project calls for 12 single-family detached homes and 172 two-story townhomes.
Getting into the property is the final challenge for developer, Next Generation Development LLC, and city officials trying to address residents’ concerns about construction traffic through their existing neighborhoods.
San Casciano Road runs between the neighborhoods of San Casciano and Cottages at San Lorenzo. Residents say they were promised the construction traffic would not come through, but the only other access point is off First Avenue East. That is a 12-foot-wide easement that is planned as a one-way road into the neighborhood, with a San Casciano exit point for future residents.
Now we are being told, ‘Oh no, you can’t use it.’
Steven Thompson, attorney for Next Generation Development LLC
In early August, the planning commission added a stipulation that would require the developer to use First Avenue East access during construction, and if necessary, use flagmen to transform the road as an exit/entry point for construction access. New Generation’s attorney, Steven Thompson, argued against that stipulation on Wednesday.
“I think it’s unnecessary and a safety issue,” said Thompson, who also noted the expense of hiring flagmen for a three-year construction project. “It’s been a long planning process and when you are the last piece of property to be developed, you come under additional scrutiny.”
Thompson said his development team purchased lots from San Casciano for the purpose of exiting traffic out of Lastra and, “now we are being told, ‘Oh no, you can’t use it.’”
Though there was no public opposition on Wednesday, residents last month said they had no issue with residential traffic, but wanted the developer to keep its promise in not having years of construction traffic coming through their neighborhood.
I want to see construction plans that reduce impact to San Casciano, but not eliminate it.
Ward 4 City Councilman Bemis Smith
“Those are public roads, not private,” said Thompson, who noted that the developer has come up with a “superior” plan in overcoming the property’s physical challenges. One-third of the land is wetlands, which the developer has incorporated as a neighborhood amenity. It will include a nature trail and gazebo.
The majority of the development is to the west of the wetlands, which includes a section close to Interstate 75, yet another challenge that was overcome with a 25-foot berm and a fence.
Thompson requested the stipulation restricting construction traffic to First Avenue East be removed. However, Ward 4 Councilman Bemis Smith said the developer needs to continue to work with public works on a safety plan before the council votes on Sept. 28.
Smith said he wants to see “something short of what’s being shown to reduce traffic through San Casciano. Smith said if he presents a motion on Sept. 28, it would be to change the stipulation to “reduce impact to San Casciano, but not eliminate it.”