Polk County is seeing requests to add thousands of single-family homes in the eastern portion of the county, and planners are concerned residential growth is happening too quickly.
“There’s no commercial designated out there,” Planning Administrator Chanda Bennett told GrowthSpotter. “That’s not necessarily odd, but there just seems to be a lot of homes coming right now without the future commercial. We’re grappling with the complete community approach as staff.”
Among the proposed communities are 1,920 lots, a high school and a middle school by Center State Development partners Reggie Baxter and Bob Adams; 152 lots for Lake Hatchineha Subdivision on 38 acres on Lake Hatchineha Road from DECCAN LLC.; and 198 acres for single-family homes along Watkins Road from Crews Groves Inc.
Center State and Crews Groves are scheduled for pre-application meetings with the county Development Review Committee Aug. 25.
The Planning Commission will consider The Lake Hatchineha Subdivision in October. Windermere-based developer DECCAN LLC is proposing minimum lot sizes of 6,000 square feet with 2-car-garage homes at expected prices between $250,000 and $400,000 and a construction start of 2023, according to planning documents. DECCAN is asking for a land-use change to Residential Low from Agriculture/Rural Residential.
Adams and Baxter’s Winter Haven-based Center State Development – a large provider of lots to Lennar Homes – bought the 1,400-acre Creek Ranch on Lake Hatchineha that includes an 11,000-square foot lodge from South Florida-based Asana Properties for $12.44 million in April. The site abuts the former Poinciana Industrial Park, which was rezoned to allow for residential development and sold to Cassidy Homes.
The Center State partners plan to keep the animals and the lodge, turn 700 acres of the property into a wetland mitigation bank, sell 100 acres to Polk County Public Schools and use 550 acres for 1,920 homesites. Center State also sells sites to D.R. Horton, DreamBuilder, KB Homes and many others, Baxter said.
Polk County Public Schools Board is set to vote Sept. 6 on a contract to buy the land at the southwest corner of the property along Hatchineha Road from Center State for $12 million. The developer would prepare the land for a high school and a middle school by bringing in utilities, handling any wetland mitigation, imported fill, endangered animal studies and site preparation, Baxter said.
“We hope to have that land use for the school and the development done probably by February or March of next year,” granted the contract is approved, Baxter said.
Construction of the home sites would begin after the school site is complete, Baxter said. Under the Asana Properties name, Baxter is seeking a Future Land-Use map amendment on 659 acres to Residential Low 4 and Institutional 2 from Agriculture/Rural Residential. Baxter cites a similar land use just west of the Creek Ranch property with Lake Deer, which was approved in 2021 for 597 homes on 160 acres in the Poinciana DRI. Poinciana, which is located in Osceola and Polk counties, is the largest unincorporated master-planned community in the United States at 47,000 acres.
The Lake Deer land-use change “made sense,” Bennett said, because it has been designated on maps in the 1960s for industrial. “These other properties don’t have that. They were never part of Poinciana. There’s certainly some growth going on here. We’re concerned right now with the trend in growth.”
There are fire stations, planned schools and parks in there, said Polk County’s Bennett, alleviating public safety concerns, however commercial opportunities will require a long drive.
Bennett said she wants to talk to Baxter and his Asana/CreekRanch representatives about the possibility of adding commercial. “Hopefully, we can talk to them about doing some kind of mix-used approach with commercial at some appropriate locations.”