What are you doing about the increased traffic this commercial center may cause?
Careful consideration of traffic has been part of the project from the start. A traffic study led by independent consultant Frank Domingo (a former Sarasota County Engineer) of Stantec, showed that the intersections of Laurel Road, Jacaranda and Veneto Boulevard (the main entrance to Venetian Golf & River Club) will still operate safely and meet the required service level standard.
The study has been approved by Sarasota County, which granted the full-median openings at the intersections of Laurel Road and Veneto Boulevard and Jacaranda Boulevard and the southern property boundary.
The proposed commercial site also will incorporate other modes of transportation for residents to use, including walking, biking, e-bikes and low speed electric vehicles (such as golf carts).
In addition, Neal and his associates with the Economic Stimulus Working Group have proposed a public-private partnership to widen the 1.5-mile stretch of Laurel Road from Jacaranda Boulevard west to Knights Trail Road. In addition, the group has proposed to construct “a missing link” – a connection that would unite Lorraine and Knight Trail roads. This will all help to alleviate traffic as your North Venice grows.
How are you addressing light pollution?
By using municipal grade solar lights, the overall light can be dimmed by up to 30 percent during non-peak nighttime hours. With varying operational modes and the ability to be outfitted with directional lighting shields, these fixtures assume high end performance while producing minimal light pollution to neighboring communities. These same lights are now being used on Benjamin Franklin Drive in Sarasota, assisting with preventing lights during sea turtle nesting season along the waterfront.
What about environmental considerations?
Before submitting the proposal for the commercial activity center, we evaluated the long-term functional viability of the project’s wetland. The study showed that, given the wetland’s location adjacent to a major intersection and the historical activities that have impacted the local hydrology on the property and allowed for the establishment of invasive species, the functions of the wetland are expected to continue to degrade in the future.
Therefore, we plan to provide mitigation utilizing marsh credits from the Myakka Mitigation Bank. A state regulated wetland mitigation bank offers builders the opportunity to purchase mitigation credits to offset ecological losses that occur when wetlands are developed. During a pre-application meeting, both Earth Balance, who manages the mitigation bank, and staff from the Southwest Florida Water Management District confirmed that credits from the Myakka Mitigation Bank could be used for this project.
The on-site stormwater pond will be filled during the construction of the proposed project. As this is a permitted stormwater pond, it is not regulated as a jurisdictional surface water, and should not be considered an impact.
Open space, perimeter buffering, landscaping and berms will be provided to ensure compatibility with the surrounding area. By purchasing mitigation credits, the functions currently provided by this wetland on a regional level will be maintained in perpetuity through the long-term preservation and management of the Myakka Mitigation Bank.
What about trash and pollution?
Neal Communities only wants to enhance the communities that it serves. We will maintain a clean construction site during development and ensure proper infrastructure is in place at the completion of the project. Recently, Neal Communities invested in the quality of life in Venice, including a recent donation of $10,000 to Laurel Civic Agency and $15,000 to Venice MainStreet. Both of these gifts were designed to enhance the overall economic viability of the City.
I’m concerned about safety and overcrowding.
This is exactly why responsible planning is critical. According to the City of Venice’s 2030 plan, in less than eight years (2030), there will be more than 6,000 homes within North Venice. Planning for this type of growth is paramount.
All of those residents will need grocery, shopping and dining options on the eastern side of Interstate 75 – nearer to their homes. Otherwise, traffic will be felt at the two existing Publix shopping plazas, both inside with crowded isles and long checkout lines and outside with parking and roadway congestion.