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Weber wants to create a 240-lot subdivision on his blueberry farm and keep 5 acres for himself on the southern portion of the property. (Polk County Property Appraiser)
Weber wants to create a 240-lot subdivision on his blueberry farm and keep 5 acres for himself on the southern portion of the property. (Polk County Property Appraiser)

Lakeland-based Next Level Planning & Permitting is working with a blueberry farmer to plan the future development of his 112 acres at Bomber and Gerber Dairy roads in Polk County. Grower David Weber wants to keep some land for himself and get the entitlements for a developer to build 240 single-family homes.

Weber, who doesn’t currently live on the property, had a deal with a national builder but when that fell through, he decided he wanted to take control of what would be built around him, Next Level planner Sarah Case told GrowthSpotter. Working with Polk County planners, Weber and Case are trying to create Weber Trust Special District (SPD) inside the Wahneta Neighborhood Plan. The land is west of Rifle Range Road, south of Eagle Lake Loop Road with Lake McCloud just west and Lake Eloise to the northeast.

“During pre-app (last year), we were looking to do some multi-family, but it was not appropriate out there,” Case told Polk planners at a Development Review Committee (DRC) meeting this month. There are wetlands and floodplains on site, and we have tried to address those by staying out of them. It’s a unique site with some environmental challenges.”

The proposed special district would allow for residential development in an area that has been designated Residential Suburban (RS). RS Land Use District permits single-family dwelling units, family care homes, agricultural support uses, and community facilities at one dwelling unit per five acres with SPD approval. The district requires 60% of developable land being developed within a one-mile radius for property 100 acres or more. Case told planners that she and Weber may consider using less than 100 acres, so the property only needs to use 40% of developable land within a one-mile radius.

The conceptual site plan shows a neighborhood park with a dog park, playground and picnic area near the entrance off Bomber Road. Weber would keep 5 acres in the southern portion of the property for a future homestead. A large conservation area would separate his lot from the neighborhood to the north.

We’re going to recommend approval to it, Polk planner Amy Little told Chase at the DRC meeting. “We need that 60% – I think you’re going to be OK but we’ll need an updated document. Other than that, I think the biggest hurdle is going to be the people living on Gerber Dairy.”

Weber “needs to weigh in on what to do,” Case said. “He’s not motivated to sell. We are working out our strategy. … He’s not a developer. He loves the property.” Weber couldn’t be reached for comment.

It’s “prime for development,” Case said. The City of Eagle Lake moved sewer and water close enough to the land to tap into it and housing continues to be needed in central Florida. Polk, Lee and Hillsborough counties were among the largest population gaining in 2022 in the nation, collectively adding 92,848 residents, according to U.S. Census data.

The Wahneta community was Polk’s first unincorporated area chosen to develop a comprehensive neighborhood plan to assist in the revitalization of the area, according to the county’s Comprehensive Plan.

Nearby, Lennar’s Ranches at Lake McLeod is west of Weber’s property on Bomber Road.

If Weber and Case submit an updated plan within the next two weeks, the Level 3 proposal will go to Polk County Planning Commission on June 7.

“My client is in no rush whatsoever.” Case said. “He is going through this exercise to achieve higher density.”

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