Map of Babcock Ranch in Lee County. The green areas are to be preserved. The grey areas are to be developed. The blue areas (smaller) are wetlands to be created to account for wetlands lost in development
BABCOCK RANCH — Babcock Ranch is getting ready to cross the line into Lee County.
Developers for the 18,000-acre community, which is mostly in western Charlotte County, are pursuing approval for another spine road connecting to new residential neighborhoods on the county’s southern border with Lee County. The Planning and Zoning Advisory Board on Feb. 14 unanimously recommended to commissioners approval for a new spine road and residential pods that abut the county line.
Babcock Ranch developers confirmed the planned community is taking steps to move into Lee County, four years after the first resident moved into Charlotte County.
Only 4,157 acres of Babcock are in Lee County. Only 1,630 potential dwelling units of the total 19,500 (8%) are in Lee County. Lee County commissioners voted 3-1 in 2018 to approve these entitlements for Babcock, including 1.2 million square feet of commercial space and 600 hotel rooms. Charlotte County commissioners approved that county’s plan in 2007.
Lee County’s dissenting Commissioner Frank Mann in 2018 said at the time that he regretted losing the county’s dwindling agricultural land, but he respected Babcock founder Syd Kitson.
Kitson told Lee County commissioners in 2018 that he waited until development was underway in Charlotte County’s section to reassure Lee County officials that the community would be developed with respect for the landscape.
Babcock Holdings is now submitting the first phases of development plans for Lee County. These plans have not been approved.
While most of the development is in Charlotte County, much of the traffic is in Lee County, because the site is closer to Fort Myers than Punta Gorda. Babcock Ranch has already committed to paying a large portion of the state’s cost to widen and alter State Road 31 from the Charlotte County entrance south into Lee County. The state plans to widen the country road, add roundabouts to slow traffic, add walkways, wide median strips and make the route safer than it is today.
Babcock Ranch will also be responsible for contributing to the cost of widening State Road 31 north into Charlotte County, but that will not be on the table until the population of the community reaches new milestones, transportation planners told The Daily Sun.
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