VENICE — The economic rebound has brought another development back to life.

Three 5-acre parcels east of Aston Gardens that were annexed into the city in 2006 have sat empty since then even though a site-and-development plan for a 120-unit project there was approved in 2011.

That plan had been adopted as a compromise recommended by a mediator after the City Council voted to downsize the original proposed development to 105 units from 144 and the mediator ruled the Council had no legal basis for doing so.

The Gallina Companies went before the Venice Planning Commission on Tuesday asking to amend that development plan, which is still in effect thanks to extensions provided under Florida law.

It could pull building permits now and start construction of its third local rental community, attorney Jeff Boone told the Commission.

It owns Woodmere Apartments in Venice and Lemon Bay Apartments in Englewood, as well as complexes in seven cities in Wisconsin.

Instead, the company proposed to reduce the number of units to 116; cut the number of buildings from 14 to seven; lower their height by one story by eliminating under-building parking; and increase setbacks and buffers.

The commissioners were in the unusual position of being asked to do some downsizing on an already approved project. The few questions they had related to items that they would get to take a detailed look at during the site-and-development plan phase — setbacks and buffers.

That was also what concerned Darin Hunt, who owns a house at the northeast corner of the southern five-acre lot. As the seller of the parcel, he’d known for years that it would eventually be developed and just wanted to make sure that the buffer between his lot and the project would be adequate.

He was satisfied by a representation from Boone that a revised plan that will be submitted to the city has a sufficient buffer.

“We’re fine with what this gentleman wants,” Boone said.

Hunt will also be able to weigh in on the site-and-development plan when the Commission considers it.

That just left some residents of Pelican Pointe Golf & Country Club to voice their concerns, which centered on one thing: traffic.

Mike Loftis asked the Commission to request a traffic study be done before any work commences. Dottie Watkins said it needed to be done in season, when it backs up on Pinebrook Road, not in July.

“The increased traffic coming out of this development is going to make things much more dangerous,” Loftis said.

But Planning Manager Roger Clark had already informed the Commission that no transportation deficiencies relating to the project had been identified.

Resident John Bailey said the remedy for traffic on Pinebrook Road would be for the county to go forward with plans to four-lane it.

The Commission voted 5-0 to recommend approval of the amendment to the City Council. Commissioners Kit McKeon and Bill Willson were absent.


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