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Proposed changes for biotech development in Lakewood Ranch area clear hurdle

County planning commissioners unanimously approved Schroeder-Manatee Ranch’s request for revisions to the development order for Lakewood Centre, which would allow light industrial uses in the CORE area, a proposed 305-acre biotech industrial district.

CORE stands for Collaboration Opportunities for Research and Exploration, and would be located in the southern portion of the 1,400-acre Lakewood Centre, north of State Road 70, south of Rangeland Parkway, east of Lakewood Ranch Boulevard, and west of White Eagle Boulevard. The request for revisions now moves on to the county commission for final approval.

“If you want high-paying, high-tech jobs, you need light industrial zoning for manufacturing,” Richard Bedford, SMR vice president of planning, said before Thursday’s vote.

The change would provide 250,000 square feet of light industrial entitlements and reduce commercial/retail entitlements by 100,000 square feet. The light industrial zoning does not allow any off-site impacts.

Two residents of the nearby Bridgewater community, however, feared that the introduction of more truck traffic along White Eagle Boulevard would make it difficult to get into and out of their neighborhood.

“It is very hard to come out of my neighborhood and see the traffic coming from the right and the north,” Laura Whinfield said.

Whinfield suggested that rather than introducing light industrial zoning into Lakewood Centre, that it be diverted to other areas at Lakewood Ranch that already have it.

Kim Herten echoed Whinfield’s concerns that the introduction of light industrial to that part of Lakewood Ranch would present a safety hazard.

Already, “we can not get in and out of our neighborhood very easily,” Herten said.

“Everybody feels the same way,” Herten said of her neighbors. “It’s quiet, it’s calm. We are trying to keep our residential, suburban feel.”

Planning commissioner Albert Horrigan asked if a plan change is approved that would bring traffic impacts, that maybe the county should request a roundabout or traffic light along White Eagle Boulevard.

“I see SMR as proactive, rather than reactive, in regard to its infrastructure. I would hope they would continue that practice,” Horrigan said.

SMR announced plans for CORE in late 2015. The campus would include up to 4.2 million square feet of commercial space focused on life sciences and health care. The area is approved for building as tall as 12 stories.

CORE plans call for 971,000 square feet of science and technology school space, a 300-room hotel and conference center, retail development, and multi-family residential development.

Also on Thursday, the planning commission recommended for approval:

  • An amendment to the University Lakes General Development Plan, moving entitlements from the Cypress Banks DRI to University Lakes DRI for additional homes and increasing the commercial space. The University Lakes DRI is east of the intersection of Interstate 75 and University Parkway and located on the north side of University Parkway.
  • A rezone and General Development Plan for 21 single family homes on approximately 5.5 acres located south of 20th Avenue East and west of 27th Street East. The site is surrounded by the City of Bradenton on two sides.
  • An amendment to the Land Development Code with respect to the Airport Zoning and Airport Impact Overlay Zoning District.

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