OKEECHOBEE – A zoning change for a housing development north and south of Charles Harvey Highway was unanimously approved June 8 by the Okeechobee County Commission.
Community Development Director Bill Royce said the property was zoned in 2006 for the Freshwater development which would have included about 1,200 homes and some commercial businesses. That project never happened. The proposed Midtown project will be less intensive with about 670 residents in a mix of single family homes and townhouses along with two areas for commercial businesses.
He said the commercial piece of the project will have no access from S.E. 18th Terrace.
During the public comment period, neighboring Oasis Village residents voiced concerns about increased traffic in the area, drainage and impact on wildlife. One resident complained the townhouses would block their view. Another said she was worried that children and pets from the new homes might trespass into Oasis Village.
Residents with homes on S.E. 18th Terrace also complained the development will increase traffic on their street.
One retiree spoke in favor of the project. “We need these houses,” he said. “We need people here who will work.”
Commission Chair David Hazellief said the zoning change is just the first step. The project will have to go through site review, which will include approvals from state agencies such as South Florida Water Management District and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
“We have no authority over those agencies,” Hazellief said.
“What we’re voting on today is a rezoning in favor of less density than what it was,” said Commissioner Kelly Owens. “This was originally improved in 2006 as a planned development with 1,200 units and some commercial development. The rezoning we’re voting on today almost cuts the number of units in half. If I lived in that area, I would see this as a favorable rezoning.”
“The impact in that area is going to be considerably less than what is already approved, she said.