Polk's Board of County Commissioners last week took a barrage of comments over two controversial proposed housing developments and opted to approve one and deny the other.
Residents paraded to the speaker's mike to complain about a plan to switch the unsuccessful Imperial Lakes Golf Course to more houses and a proposal in the Kathleen area to build multi-story apartment buildings next to one-acre lot homes.
After hearing complaints about constant drainage problems, the board approved the plan to change the golf course from a recreational area to an additional housing complex. The new plan will allow the property owners to add up to 300 more units to the already dense area.
Commissioners learned that since 188-acre golf course was included as part of the original Development of Regional Impact documents decades ago, when the DRI expired, that area was left unzoned.
The zoning coincides with the proposal to develop the property, explained the county's land development staff.
The biggest concern voiced by residents was the ongoing drainage problems that plague the area. Commissioner Bill Braswell, who once lived in the Imperial Lakes development, attested to the long-standing drainage problems.
“I lived there in the 80s, so I know about the drainage problems,” Braswell said.
Land Use Department Chief John Bohde said that the proposed development could address some of the drainage issues during the construction of the new homes.
“This seems like an issue of benign neglect,” said Commissioner George Lindsey. “This should have been dealt with when the DRI ran out.”
The developer plans to build homes and apartments or town homes on 73 acres of the golf course and use another five acres for a convenience center, which could include small businesses.
“This is an opportunity to fix some of the drainage issues out there and an opportunity to move forward,” Braswell added. “It opens the door to fixing this.”
Also drawing fire from residents was the Majestic Realty's plan to build multi-story family homes on a 34-acre parcel of land in the Kathleen area.
Commissioners again heard from more than a dozen residents who claim the proposed higher density development would alter the rural landscape of the Gibsonia area in Kathleen.
The development opponents said the proposal to build apartments or townhomes on the land in the Marcum and Daughtery Road area was incompatible with what already was in place. They said the majority of homes adjacent to the development site were on one-acre lots and the higher density designation that would allow multi-family homes was not compatible with the surrounding property.
Linda Goodman, a resident of the area, said the proposal “is totally ridiculous” and she didn't want three- or four-story buildings 17 feet from her home. “This is not rational whatsoever.”
Her comments were echoed by more than a dozen of her neighbors.
Most of the county commissioners agreed with her, and by a 4 to 1 vote, the board opted to deny the developer's request to rezone the land to allow for higher density homes in that area. Lindsey cast the dissenting vote.