No formal application ever filed with Sarasota County staff regarding plans for Lorraine Road RV Park

Project proposed on about 43 acres in eastern part of county

This graphic in the preliminary application is the Development Concept Plan for the RV park. Image courtesy Sarasota County

Plans announced in the spiring for the development of a recreational vehicle (RV) park on Lorraine Road in Sarasota County are on hold, The Sarasota News Leader has learned.

Although a preliminary application for the project was filed in April 6 with Sarasota County’s Planning and Development Services Department, and a county-required Neighborhood Workshop was conducted in early May, no formal petition had been submitted as of Dec. 11, Planning and Development staff told The Sarasota News Leader, in response to a public records request.

The last documents Planning and Development staff received about the proposal were those filed in regard to the May 2 workshop, the staff response added.

Formally, the applicant in the preliminary materials was identified as SITC Inc., whose principal is John J. Cox III of Halfacre Construction Co. in Sarasota. However, Kelley Klepper, vice president of the Kimley-Horn consulting firm in Sarasota, filed the materials with Planning and Development.

Neither Klepper nor Cox responded this week to News Leader inquiries about why no formal application had been submitted to county staff.

The April preliminary application said that the site of the proposed Lorraine Road RV Park comprises four parcels encompassing about 43.45 acres. The property is located about half a mile north of Fruitville Road; its western boundary is Lorraine Road, the document added. The project would contain 35 “equivalent dwelling units,” the preliminary application noted.

One of the four parcels planned as home to the RV park is outlined in purple, adjacent to Lorraine Road. Image courtesy Sarasota County Property Appraiser Bill Furst

The county’s Unified Development Code (UDC), which contains all of the land-use and zoning regulations, defines equivalent dwelling unit thus: “The utilization of building space in such a manner as to have the potential of using two hundred fifty (250) gallons of potable water per day or generating two hundred (200) gallons of sewage per day.”

SITC still owns all four parcels, the Sarasota County Property Appraiser’s Office records showed as of Dec. 20. They are all zoned Open Use Estate (OUE), which allows one dwelling unit per 5 acres.

The UDC explains, “The OUE District is intended to retain the open character of land. This district provides for and encourages resource conservation and activities with an agricultural orientation, and is intended to be comprised of a combination of residential and agricultural activity. Normally, necessary urban services cannot be efficiently or economically provided to lands in this district in the foreseeable future. Permitted uses are limited to conservation, agriculture, very low density residential development, recreation, and with certain limitations, institutional and other uses not contrary to the character of the district. The open vista, low-density character of residential areas in this district should be protected from the encroachment of incompatible uses. The Comprehensive Plan’s objective of protecting the integrity and quality of established residential neighborhoods should be implemented in residential areas within this district.”

Nonetheless, the UDC notes, RV parks are allowed in OUE districts with the County Commission’s approval of a Special Exception.

Residents of one of the communities close to the proposed RV park site sent out an alert in advance of the May 2 workshop, pointing out that the site is “directly across” from the Windward homes of Lakewood Ranch. Other affected communities, the Waterside Neighborhood Alliance advisory said, are Shoreview and Waterside, along with those on Lorraine and Dog Kennel roads and Sinclair Drive.

The Alliance added in its alert, “We are your neighbors who care about preserving the beauty and character of our neighborhood. Together we are stronger to protect the quality of our lives where we live, work and play.”

Windward at Lakewood Ranch, a Neal Communities development, lies to the west of the proposed RV park site. Image from Google Maps

In the April preliminary application, Kelley Klepper, vice president of the Kimley-Horn consulting firm in Sarasota, enclosed a copy of the Lorraine Road RV Park Development Concept Plan, but he noted that it was non-binding. Nonetheless, he wrote, it “reflects compliance with the standards of the Unified Development Code depicting recreational vehicle sites at least 2,500 square feet in area, on-site parking, landscape buffers, and on-site amenities including a management facility and recreational facilities.”

The site of the development is vacant agricultural land, Klepper added in the preliminary application itself.

A map included with the documents pointed out that existing wetlands comprise about 10.33 acres of the site, while buffers and open space would cover about 4.5 acres. Therefore, the graphic said, the net amount of land available for the project would be 26.68 acres.

Further, the graphic showed, “swim areas” would take up approximately 3.98 acres, while a recreation area would comprise about 3.95 acres.

The address of the property would be 2000 Lorraine Road, the preliminary application noted.

Along with Klepper, attorney William Merrill III of the Icard Merrill firm in Sarasota was identified as a member of the project team.