Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Commissioner McCarthy Urges Better Planning

LABELLE, FL. -- Hendry County Commissioner Kevin McCarthy spoke at the Port LaBelle Laurel Oaks Property Owners Association annual meeting Monday night in LaBelle, urging more cautious city and county zoning and land planning.

McCarthy told the property owners at their meeting at the 1st Baptist Church in LaBelle "We're not doing a good job of planning," referring to the county commission's recent approvals of rezoning and special exemptions from code of Hendry county land parcels.

A large section of Felda, south of LaBelle has been rezoned for industrial use, but State Road 29's two lane highway may be insufficient for the extra demands, McCarthy pointed out, as one example of not looking at the bigger picture in zoning actions.

Other projects McCarthy named as worrisome, include a two story industrial building in Clewiston near Robbie's Restaurant that is what many call an eyesore in the midst of a residential development, and cited a four-story Hampton Inn motel recently approved across from Walgreen's in Clewiston that will be the first building exceeding the normal two-story height limitation for buildings in Hendry county.

In Southern Hendry county, McCarthy says a large parcel of the Daniels Ranch property is in development stage for a large residential "new town." In Port LaBelle, the former Oxbow Golf Course acreage is under review by Florida's state planning agency for proposed condos, apartments, and homes, while immediately east of the parcel, State Road 80 is off and on for four-laning of the highway to the east, suffering from funding troubles which may cause a delay in completion of the full project scheduled to run from Port LaBelle all the way to U.S. 27 in mid-county.

McCarthy says he's concerned about all the special exemptions from existing zoning codes given to developers that come before the zoning and planning board and the county and city commissions. McCarthy worries that the county's infrastructure is not fully ready for all the proposed development, saying "It's our roads, and I think we have to worry about it."

CHL Home Builders is constructing two more model homes on State Road 80 east of LaBelle, although McCarthy says the land being built on has high arsenic levels in the soil, and the homes there will never be allowed to be sold to a homeowner, but will eventually have to be razed. McCarthy said the home builder wanted to put more homes there but was allowed only one per five acres.

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