■ BY MARCY SHORTUSE – Approximately 100 Boca Grande residents attended a public information meeting on Monday, Nov. 16 regarding a proposed residential development on the empty 10 acres at the southern tip of the island, currently owned by Florida Power & Light. The presentation was brought to the public by the Seagate Development Group, LLC and BNB Homes, Inc., Boca Pass Partners LLC, two companies currently doing due diligence on the property right now, and Waldrop Engineering. If the land transaction is completed, they are proposing to put approximately 20 homes on the land in a gated subdivision called “Hill Tide Estates.” The developers would first have to seek a comprehensive plan amendment and zoning change from “public facilities/port” to “residential planned development” use, which would allow for two homes per acre on the 9.98-acre site.
The current plans being submitted are compliant with all Boca Grande Community Plan and Gasparilla Island Conservation District Act regulations as well, acording to Chuck Basinait, an attorney from Henderson, Franklin, Starnes & Holt who spoke on behalf of the developers. Basinait said there are several benefits to the community from having the land zoned as residential planned development, including more research into traffic patterns and environmental impact, and a binding master concept plan, which will include the public being allowed to see the layout of the proposed community.
“This type of zoning takes a little longer, and it may be more costly, but in the end we will have a better product,” Basinait said. Several slides were shown of the proposed development, which includes some beachfront recreational land and a good portion of recreational green space (no clubhouses or pools, though).
Each of the 20 single-family homes has the option of having a private pool, and the developers are exploring several options as far as high-end custom Florida-style beachfront home models. The homes would be in keeping with the common coastal architectural theme of the Boca Grande community. Basinait explained that there would be one point of access into the gated community, which would be almost directly across from the vacant lot on Belcher Road. Enhanced landscape buffers will be key, and the existing berm will be kept to protect the area and screen the Hill Tide Estate homes. A long dock is also part of the proposal and would be built on the northeast corner of the property out into Charlotte Harbor.
When asked if the old oil dock that is still in the water there would be allowed to remain, Basinait said they had discussed leaving it there. “We may remove it entirely or leave a portion of it,” he said. “We may keep some of it for purposes of historical significance, and because it’s a nice feature to have.” Another question raised by the public was whether beach access would be restricted there if the proposed development is built. One resident said he lives just north of the proposed site, and he knows that people walk the beach along the southeast corner of it all the time. “We haven’t vetted that yet,” Basinait said. “It’s one of those questions I would love to be able to answer. I don’t know why we would want to cut off access. We will try to work it out. We don’t want to take it away from anyone.”
Another question asked by an audience member was whether the development companies were certain the land was appropriately cleaned up after the fuel tanks were removed. Basinait said they would be conducting their own environmental studies just to be sure, but they have been assured by FPL and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection that the site is “clean.” Basinait completed his presentation by saying they would be submitting their rezoning requests before the month ended.
A public hearing will be required, and residents who live within 500 feet of the property will be receiving letters with the time, date and location of that hearing. The development companies will also be posting signs with the hearing date and time on the property. They will have to go before the Lee County Examiner’s Office and the Board of County Commissioners for final approval. “With this plan, what you see is what you get,” he said. “ And that detail is included within the zoning resolution as a condition to be approved by the County.
If there are 20 lots on the plan, we can’t build more than 20 homes. When landscaping is shown as part of the detail, it’s made a condition oftentimes. I think from a community-wide perspective and development perspective it’s a cleaner, easier process.” If the plan is approved, Basinait said the entitlement process could probably take 12 months, maybe 16. Construction would begin immediately thereafter, and the development could be complete within three to five years.