County Commission OKs Lakewood Ranch expansion into Sarasota

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LAKEWOOD RANCH, Fla. -- The Suncoast's Lakewood Ranch ranks in the top 10 in the nation for most rapidly growing communities. With that growth has come concern from businesses and residents that the development is becoming clogged with traffic.

Lakewood Ranch developer Schroeder- Manatee Ranch says it has the answer: to ease traffic and provide alternatives, the developer plans to extend Lakewood Ranch Boulevard and Lorraine Road South to Fruitville Road. They will then construct an east to west connecting road in between. They also plan to either extend Iona Road from Palmer Boulevard to Fruitville Road or build an overpass across I-75 from Lakewood Ranch Boulevard to Cattleman Road.

The plan also calls for the construction of thousands of new homes south of University Parkway, a move contingent on the Sarasota County Commission changing the county's 2050 Development Plan.

The Sarasota County Commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday in favor of the expansion of the developer's master site plan, along with the expansion of roads, improving traffic moving to-and-from Sarasota and Manatee counties. Local businesses say this vote couldn't have come at a better time.

The developer will now move forward with their plan to build into South Sarasota County, adding 5,000 homes, over 300,000 square feet of commercial space, and an elementary school. They call the development The Villages of Lakewood Ranch South.

The nearly 5,500 acres of land where The Villages of Lakewood Ranch South will be developed surround Lakewood Ranch Corporate Park, providing more housing for those moving into the area for work as well.