WELLEN PARK — A plan that could see an eventual 9,000 new homes along River Road heads to the Sarasota County Commission on Wednesday.

The Board of Commissioners will consider a critical area plan for Winchester Ranch, a proposed development on 3,660 acres adjacent to River Road from the boundaries of the various subdivisions along S.R. 776 eastward to and surrounding the Myakka Pines golf course.

Lying entirely within the West Villages Improvement District, the property is deemed a critical area of concern within the county’s comprehensive plan.

Once known as part of the Taylor Ranch, it now lies entirely within the West Villages Improvement District, and if it comes to fruition will become part of Wellen Park.

During the public hearing before the county’s planning commission on Feb. 18, Marty Black, the general manager of West Villages — renamed Wellen Park — attempted to calm potential opposition saying that people shouldn’t expect to see a thousand homes going in all at once.

Passage of the critical area plan is, however, the first step in the development of that area.

Of concern to residents about the potential development is River Road.

Plans submitted to the county do indicate two parallel roads — Preto Boulevard and West Villages Parkway — running through the development to keep traffic internalized according to Black.

West Villages Parkway, which intersects with U.S. 41 in Wellen Park, which is a part of North Port, will be extended to meet the intersection of River Road and U.S. 41, giving Englewood residents an option to avoid the dangerous curve on River Road, and the flooding that often occurs.

The public hearing on the critical area plan is the last item on the commissioners’ morning agenda, likely occurring after 10 a.m. at the meeting in Sarasota.

Because of pandemic restrictions, the county has a website that will allow residents interested in offering written testimony or comments in advance of the public hearing or to testify remotely during the hearing.

Links to do that are provided at under the 4/21/2021 Sarasota County Commission heading.

Those links will remain open until noon Tuesday, April 20, for people to send comments or sign up to testify.

County planners have already found the plan to be consistent with the county’s comprehensive plan and have recommended approval.


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