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Will the Witt Park Enclave become a reality at the west end of Cowles Street in Englewood? Sarasota County has yet to decide.

ENGLEWOOD — Heather Hooper is among those who don’t want the 12-unit Witt Park Enclave built on West Cowles Street.

“It is not in spirit of the preservation of our community,” Hooper told the Englewood Community Redevelopment Agency Advisory Board this week.

The project calls for a cul-de-sac with a dozen two-story homes with parking garages tucked underneath.

Witt Park

The Witt Park enclave is planned for the 2.6-acre plot behind the First Baptist Church in Englewood, between Cowles and Magnolia. Indian Mound Park is a block west of the property.

Hooper noted how the existing neighborhood is made up of homes built in the 1940s and 1950s. Many are small, with one-car garages or carports.

Hooper and opponents of the project have a reprieve. Developer Steve Witt’s plan for the Witt Park Enclave is stalled for the moment.

THE PLANS

Sarasota County has deemed the developer’s application as “insufficient” and requested more information.

But that does not mean the developer cannot provide the information county staff requests and move forward with the development plans.

The 2.6-acre plot sits on the west end of Cowles Street, north of West Palm Grove Avenue. It is behind the First Baptist Church on Mango Street, and Indian Mound Park is just a block to the west. The current zoning allows for nine homes.

But the developer is asking the county to rezone the property as a planned unit development.

County approval would allow the developer greater flexibility with its development, as well allowing three additional homes on the property.

Two-story homes would be allowed within Sarasota County’s 35-foot height limit for residential development. The height of the proposed residences isn’t arbitrary.

“It’s a FEMA requirement,” said Brian Lichterman of Vision & Design and agent for the owner, Steve Witt.


Witt Park 2

The plan for 12 homes in the Witt Park enclave, near Indian Mound Park in Englewood.

The plans are still being revised and fine-tuned.

“Each of the new homes will have waterfront views and will capture a subtle Key West architectural character which will be enhanced by lush landscaping and exterior focal point community spaces with gazebos, trellises, landscaping and benches,” said Ron Sivitz of Sivitz Innovative Designs.

“There is a large cul-de-sac at the end of the development which will have a central fountain feature with enhanced landscaping,” Sivitz said. “We firmly believe that this proposed future development will enhance the Englewood community.”

COUNTY ACQUISITION?

While Lichterman, Sivitz and others work on the plans for Witt Park Enclave, Sarasota County is contemplating whether the 2.6 acres might better serve the community as public property.

Witt was described as amicable to a possible county acquisition of the land by Sarasota County.

“The property was nominated to the Neighborhood Parkland Acquisition Program earlier this spring and has been evaluated by staff and the Parks Advisory and Recreation Council (PARC) advisory board,” said Nicole Rissler, Sarasota County director of Parks, Recreation and Natural Resource.

The proposal is actually for two parcels. The one owned by Steve Witt is called Witt’s End, and the other is the site of the Lampp home.

No check is in the mail, though.

“At this time, county staff are working through numerous acquisition projects that are prioritized ahead of the Lampp and Witts End properties,” Rissler said Thursday.

County parks officials held an online community meeting with neighbors in April to gauge enthusiasm about possibly converting the properties into a public park, if the county is to buy them.

“The feedback from the community meeting was supportive of acquisition, but there was varying support on park development in this area,” she said.

The PARC advisory board asked staff to wait the outcome of the archaeological review and rezone efforts before the county moves forward with any additional acquisition efforts or activities of the property.

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