Thursday, December 13 was the public hearing on the Sandy Oaks Project. It concerns a request of rezoning a 6.64 +/- acre lot from a Single-Family Low Density R1-A zoning district to a planned unit development (PUD) zoning which would allow for a maximum of 65 single family dwellings and associated accessory uses on the property. The property is adjacent to the west side of Aqua Isles. The minimum lot size of 3000 SF would allow for “Micro-Cottage” or “Tiny Home” Product type. These smaller detached one-bedroom houses will also have residential accessory uses such as RV parking. Because of the linear nature of the road way they are proposing a staggered front yard setback.
The applicant claims that the houses will mainly for single people that travel a lot and would like a home on the water. Many of the property owners in the area are concerned that, because it is a new type product, the market might not receive it well. A lot of people that live on Live Oak Lane are concerned with the project. They are concerned that 65 houses would mean 130 cars that are coming in and out, plus RV-parking, it is not compatible with the houses on Live Oak Lane.
Sherriff Steve Whidden claims that there is a need for housing for deputies, for many years they have hired deputies that live outside of the county. A lot of those deputies would like to move to the city of LaBelle but are having difficulties finding homes. According to Whidden this project would mean that the deputies can buy an affordable home in LaBelle and it would be a benefit for the community.
One bedroom housing is not family housing, and the pre existing neighborhood that is geared towards families does not match with that according to multiple people in the area. The main concern was the limited space for possibly 130 cars in that neighborhood with 1.5 lane road. Other concerns were that it would affect the surrounding property values and that traffic would increase significantly on Live Oak Lane, and a lot of families have their kids playing and riding their bikes on that road.
Andrew Jones, who lives next to the property in question said, ““The city is considering zoning change to 10 units per acre of Non-family housing from 4 units/acre, 40 feet from an established Single family home. The ‘tiny home’ movement is notorious for lowering property values of surrounding neighbors. It will also make Shady Oak lane and Live Oak Lane dangerous for pedestrians of all ages. We ask all concerned to imagine this happening to their family home. If approved this will be the legacy of the City Council and impact the credibility of all involved.”
Concern on the commission was that if they approve this zoning change that it might set a precedent for future zoning changes and concerns were raised about the room for cars on the lots. The developer claimed that it is not a realistic prediction that every household would have two cars. The HOA would enforce the two person per lot rule and the property would be very well maintained and landscaped and that it will attract teachers, deputies and wealthy single people looking for a second home. There will also be a 10 foot wide berm around the property as a buffer for the neighboring properties. Further discussion and a final public hearing on the project will be in January.