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Polk County rejects rezoning plans, killing housing potential

On Behalf of | Jun 21, 2022 | Land Use |

Two potential rezoning plans approving segments of the Imperial Lakes Golf Course in Florida for higher densities were voted on by Polk County Board of Commissioners. The proposals were both resoundingly rejected by the commissioners, one of them unanimously.

Two proposals made and rejected

There were two proposals considered, both submitted on behalf of Next Level Planning and Permitting. Both were focused on amending the plans for how the land will be used going forward, designating portions for residential high where they are currently residential low.

The second plan involved upping the regional impact of an additional 21 acres from residential low to medium. A total of 41.24 acres of the golf course in Mulberry would have been affected.

These proposals both gained the Planning Commission’s approval in a nearly unanimous vote in May of 2022. But when the first proposed plan reached the Polk County Board of Commissioners, it only received one vote of approval. The second proposal was rejected unanimously.

Lost housing potential

The decision to change the zoning of this golf course to residential low came in 2021. This put an end to the development of multifamily units in the area.

As things currently stand under the land use zoning, developers have the potential to increase the top density from one unit per acre up to five. Under these two proposed rezoning plans, a total of 876 homes could have been developed on the 188 acres that comprise the golf course. This excludes 16 acres of the area that are wetlands.

The commissioner who brought forth the motion of rejection for both proposals stated that he wasn’t clear how the plans would benefit residents, improve traffic, or resolve drainage problems. The representative from Next Level Planning and Permitting who submitted the proposals claimed that raising the residential zoning would help with draining, but the commissioners weren’t convinced.

The safety of the public was voiced not only by commissioners but by the general public as well. Exacerbation of drainage issues has the potential to cause flooding, and community members argue that the local infrastructure couldn’t keep up with the rise in traffic that these changes would create.