by Jim Willis, MPC member
Lakeland’s Municipal Planning Commission (MPC) voted unanimously tonight (4.20.17) to recommend approval of a one-year extension on the Belz Lake Forest Planned Development adjacent to the old Outlet Mall.
The project, first approved in 2005, was granted a five-year extension in 2012 and then a six-year extension a year ago when the Lake District Project of Gilad Development Corp. proposed purchasing the Lake Forest property for incorporation into The Lake District (TLD).
Dexter Muller, speaking on behalf of TLD, said he expects a component of the Lake District project to begin construction in October. He said the extension on the Belz project was necessary to protect the Belz project should the Lake District not move forward.
In a letter to Tom Skehan, Lakeland planning director, Bob Sweeney of SR Consulting said Belz and Gilad recently amended the sales contract between the two companies to allow Gilad an 18-month extension on the sale to “provide Gilad more time for pre-development activities.”
The sales contract extension between Gilad and Belz was contingent on approval of the one-year extension on the Lake Forest project so Belz would have the option to resume its project should Gilad not proceed with its purchase of the Belz property.
The MPC also approved the final plat on The Pet Hospital of Lakeland on Canada Road north of U.S. Highway 64.
Bill Morgan, who lives in Lakeland Estates, addressed the MPC and made proposals on increasing post-construction inspections for “all design, landscaping and signage requirements.” He said there are several recent projects which are not in compliance on the projects approved by the MPC and some have completed projects they never brought before the group.
He said he believes the problem is that Lakeland does not have sufficient staff for planning and code enforcement. Mr. Morgan recommended that additional staff be hired. He also asked that a method be established for the anonymous reporting of code violations to the City. He said if there is a record of the complaints, the subjects of those complaints could use public records to determine which of their neighbors complained, perhaps, put the person who filed the complaint in jeopardy of retaliation.
… Photos courtesy of Tom Skehan.