LABELLE -- A proposal to rezone two LaBelle land parcels from agricultural to multi-use PUD raised some concerns by nearby residents during the regular Aug. 24 meeting of the Hendry County Board of County Commissioners.
SWJR Land Development, LLC, of Naples has requested the PUD to commercial and light industrial development and for a recreational vehicle resort with ameneties.
The approximate 168-acres on the south side of State Road 80 east of the Hendry/Lee County line is known for sightings of protected species such as Florida panthers, wood storks and crested caracaras.
LaBelle resident Catherine Ferrante said those species have been seen at the C43 crossing, down the canal and into the orange grove.
"Has there been or is there a plan to do an environmental study to make sure we're not disrupting too much of these creatures' habitats?" she asked commissioners prior to voting on the amendment.
Planning and Community Development Director Margaret Emblidge, AICP, said such a survey had been done but there were no sightings. She said she'd find out the date of the study when Ferrante mentioned that the time of year would be important for the sightings.
LaBelle resident Gary Ferrante asked when the developer would make certain its plans.
"If you allow all three does that give them the option of doing all three or a combination of sometime in the future?" he said.
Emblidge said the industrial park aspect is going to be withdrawn but that won't affect the comprehensive plan amendment. The developer now plans to move forward with an RV resort and some commercial development.
Commissioner Karson Turner asked if the developer would be locked into the RV park and if so could it request to build industrial instead.
“The only way they could build industrial is if they came in with a PUD that specifically said that they’re going to do industrial,” Emblidge said. And they had included that in their PUD along with the RV park as options.”
She said it’s not unusual for a developer to obtain a comprehensive plan map amendment and return for rezoning for multiple uses. But in this case, the developer is focused on the RV park resort which will have amenities development which will have commercial in front.
The public will be notified by mail and advertisements in the local papers when a date is set for a public hearing so all can hear about the final plan and comment.
Turner was pleased to learn the RV resort park would is proposed to be similar to River Bend, which has been a boon for the county.
“If that’s what the applicant is trying to push, then by all means let’s get on the same page. I think it’s a good project,” he said.
The economic impact of an RV park is expected to increase tax revenues by more than $234,000 per year to the county and $172,000 per year to the Hendry County School District.
Commissioners voted 5-0 to approve the amendment.