ENGLEWOOD — The Englewood Water District took a step this week toward a possible future with Wellen Park developers.
The water district’s elected board of supervisors approved an agreement with four different development companies, including Pulte Homes, along with the West Villages Improvement District, to develop a plan for sewer service for future homes in the sprawling subdivision.
The West Villages Improvement District is a special taxing district set up a few years ago by the state of Florida, much like it established the Englewood Water District in the late 1950s. Most, but not all, of the Wellen Park communities are inside the city of North Port. Others are in unincorporated Sarasota County.
While the city of North Port began operating a $42 million wastewater plant in 2020 to serve most Wellen Park communities, there is a six-square-mile chunk of the subdivision that falls within the jurisdiction/service area of the Water District. The parcels are near Manasota Beach Road and South River Road.
Englewood Water District is charged with providing potable water, wastewater treatment and treated effluent for irrigation to those areas within its jurisdiction, which straddles Sarasota and Charlotte County.
BMG Three was the original developer of what will become Beachwalk by Manasota Key, near the extension of Manasota Beach Road and east of State Road 776. However, Pulte bought out that project. When the time comes, Pulte has agreed to design and build a new sewer force main along the existing Florida Power and Light easement that runs north and south through the middle of Wellen Park.
“Previous easements were written as ‘water’ easements and did not cover sewer,” the Englewood Water District’s Administrator Ray Burroughs told the elected supervisors. “Under this agreement, these easements are being modified to expand the easements to allow property separation, as well as making them ‘utility’ easements.”
More importantly, the Water District is preparing to hire consultants to develop capital improvement study that will evaluate the the Holiday Ventures master plan.
Holiday Ventures, located off South River Road, is a utility the Water District inherited when it bought the private West Charlotte Utilities in the 1990s. What was once a small wastewater treatment plant now collects and pumps sewage to the district’s wastewater treatment plant off Winchester Boulevard South, near Grove City.
According to the agreement, the developers intend to build 10,610 residential units and 360,000 square feet of commercial use within the Water District’s service area in the Wellen Park area off River Road and Winchester Boulevard North.
“This is several, several years down the road,” Burroughs said. That development is the last major growth spurt Burroughs expects the Water District to see.
The Water District’s treatment plant is permitted to treat 3.4 million gallons of wastewater per day. It’s been treating an average of 1.5 million gallons, and recently experienced a peak day of 2 million gallons.
Near the U.S. 41-South River Road intersection, the city of North Port’s new wastewater treatment plant is permitted to treat 2 million gallons per day, but is currently treating about 400,000. The plant is specifically designed to serve Wellen Park and, when built out, can have a capacity of 4 million gallons per day, city officials said.
If the Englewood Water District’s study recommends building a new North Wastewater Treatment Plant, the district and the Wellen Park developers could negotiate its development, the agreement states.
The developers are willing to sell the property to the Water District for a new treatment plant. In return, they’d want Water District officials to grant them an equal amount of credits for equivalent residential connections.
Burroughs suggested the study’s conclusion might also recommend an upgrade of the Holiday Ventures pumping system rather than constructing a new plant.
Those questions, however, won’t be answered until the study is complete and the District has time to answer them.