The city of Tavares grew by 65.26 acres recently when it annexed orange groves impacted by citrus greening on the west side of S.R. 19.
The land is owned by the May and Whitaker Family Partnership LTD, an entity that has owned a lot of orange groves in Lake County. While the trees are suffering from the greening blight, it also happens to lie within the city’s most recent path of growth.
A new Publix shopping center with other businesses and outparcels under development is close to opening on its west side. The groves are also close to an expansion of Shantiniketan, a thriving active adult development for seniors of Indian extraction.
The representative for the owners of the May and Whitaker land partnership, planner Bill Ray of Ocala, did not return calls inquiring about plans for the land's development. In addition to annexing the land, it was also rezoned from agricultural to a more intensive use, highway commercial with some retail components, said Jacques Skutt, Tavares community director.
That is a big deal for us," Skutt said. "That is a lot of property, 65 acres."
Tavares is on a bit of an annexation tear, annexing 76.49 acres in the 8,428-acre city this year, said Skutt. "This is certainly a trend. They need sewer and water and to get that they have to come into the city."
Tavares has taken advantage of a fairly new law allowing cities to negotiate with each other to divvy up unincorporated areas, creating Interlocal Service Boundary Districts where the cities agree among themselves and the county as to what services they would provide to unincorporated areas in exchange for the owners annexing into city limits.