VENICE — There’s no development proposal for the five-acre parcel FNG Holdings owns south of East Venice Avenue between Colebrook Court and South Auburn Road.

In fact, the land hasn’t yet been annexed into the city. But if it is, and the owner proposes to develop something, the Planning Commission knows that it wants the buildings to look Northern Italian.

The Commission voted unanimously Tuesday to recommend that the City Council annex the property and approve amendments to the comprehensive plan and zoning map to give the property a Residential, Multi-Family 2 designation, to match Cottages of Venice, the community to the west.

That development is covered by the Venetian Gateway overlay, which imposes some aesthetic standards on the approaches to the island. It wasn’t incorporated into the pre-annexation agreement with FNG the Council approved last week, however.

It’s also not in the comp plan regarding this property, Acting Planning Director Roger Clark acknowledged, so the Commission didn’t have the authority to require compliance with it.

Representing FNG, attorney Annie Boone said her client wouldn’t propose anything incompatible with the area but couldn’t commit to specifics because the land may have environmental concerns that would need to be addressed.

Chair Barry Snyder noted that the Gateway standards encourage following the Northern Italian style, in keeping with the surroundings, but don’t require it.

The Commission’s vote to recommend the rezoning of the property included a stipulation incorporating the Gateway recommendation. Attorney Jeff Boone said that FNG will address it with the City Council when that body considers the matter.

Other business

The Commission also unanimously approved a site-and-development plan for Watermark of Venice, a 244-unit “high-end” rental community east of Pinebrook Road between Curry Lane to the north and R&F Road to the south.

The project consists of a 20-acre parcel abutting Pinebrook road that will have 10 units per acre and two five-acre parcels to the east that will have five units per acre.

A special exception to allow a 6-foot masonry wall along Pinebrook Road and a conditional-use petition for gates were also approved 7-0.

The votes came after two residents of Waterford South were reassured that the vegetative buffer in the southeastern corner of the property would remain largely intact.

“It doesn’t cost anything for them to do nothing with it,” Jim Nolan said.

Jeff Boone said that the developer has already pledged to protect the buffer. But, project arborist Chris Cantaglione said, much of the vegetation is Brazilian pepper, an invasive species the city requires removal of, while other parts of it are overgrown with grape vine.

The developer is willing to leave the invasives if the city will allow it, Boone said, and will cooperate with the Waterford residents in getting that approved.

The Southwest Florida Water Management District will also have something to say about it because there are a wetland and a retention pond in that area, Clark said.

The City Council will consider the conditional-use application but the other two approvals are final.


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