7-Eleven at corner of notorious intersection all about money not public safety

We applaud the members of the Lady Lake Commission who have expressed doubts about the feasibility of allowing a 7-Eleven gas station/minimart/car wash to be built at the extremely busy intersection of County Road 466 and Rolling Acres Road.

While we believe the entire commission eventually will put an end to this project that would turn a bad traffic situation into a nightmare of epic proportions, we would like to offer huge praise to Commissioner Dan Vincent for already making it clear that he is a “no” whenever the proposal comes up for a vote in front of the group.

Traffic frequently backs up at the corner of Rolling Acres Road and County Road 466, where 7-Eleven hopes to build a gas station/minimart/car wash.
Dan Vincent
Commissioner Dan Vincent

Vincent said that continued delays in funding for improvements to Rolling Acres Road are a big part of his reason for opposing the proposed 7-Eleven. He added that he feels particularly burned after a 2016 vote he cast to allow the construction of a medical clinic on Rolling Acres Road not far from The Villages Elementary of Lady Lake. At the time, Lake County officials had hinted that the economic benefits of the new clinic could accelerate funding for improvements on Rolling Acres Road.

That was more than two years ago and nothing has happened yet. And today, the heavily traveled thoroughfare carries the designation of a “failing road.”

“Had I known what I know now, I wouldn’t have voted for it,” Vincent said.

A Village Mover vehicle was involved in a crash at Rolling Acres Road and County Road 466 in November.
Lake County Commissioner Josh Blake

To make matters worse, Vincent said he had a recent conversation that didn’t go so well with Lake County Commissioner Josh Blake, who represents Lady Lake, about getting the money from the county to improve the situation on Rolling Acres Road.

“Basically, he told me to ‘go soak it,’” said Vincent, who quickly added that the county seems to have no problem finding money for Clermont and Mount Dora.

Vincent, of Water Oak, said he’s had enough of Lady Lake getting the short end of the stick.

“We’re not going to sit back and let them hand out crumbs to us,” he said. “I want the whole loaf.”

The powers-that-be at 7-Eleven are hoping to build a 3,486-square-foot facility on 1.405 acres on the northwest corner of the intersection of County Road 466 and Rolling Acores Road. It would be located less than a mile from the new Wawa that’s going in at U.S. Hwy. 27/441 and CR 466.
Attorney Tara Tedrow

If you’re not familiar with the 7-Eleven proposal in Lady Lake, the convenience store giant sent its lawyer to the Nov. 19 commission meeting to put on a dog-and-pony show – complete with a slick presentation – about the “modern” 7-Eleven that would be “attractive” and “inviting.”

Tara Tedrow, a senior associate at the Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed law firm, which represents 7-Eleven, said the convenience store and its 16 fueling stations would encompass 3,486 square feet on 1.405 acres on the northwest corner of the intersection, north of Village of Palms and west of Recreation Plantation. It also would be located less than a mile from the new Wawa that’s going in at U.S. Hwy. 27/441 and CR 466.

Firefighters work to extricate those trapped in vehicles in this June 2015 crash at Rolling Acres Road and County Road 466.

Amazingly, Tedrow showed the commission numbers that made it appear as if the location of the 7-Eleven actually would help alleviate traffic at the oftentimes jam-packed intersection. A claim was even made that 67 percent of trees on the property would be saved. And Tedrow added that a 7-Eleven is a better fit than a restaurant because a gas station is not a “destination” and wouldn’t create additional traffic like an eatery would.

Please. We have to wonder if Tedrow has ever driven on Rolling Acres Road, or for that matter, if she even knows where it’s located. Her firm is based out of Orlando and we seriously doubt that Tedrow has ever spent time in that long, long line of traffic that sometimes backs up past Ro-Mac Lumber & Supply.

A two-car collision occurred in April at County Road 466 and Rolling Acres Road.

Because if she had sat in that frustrating quagmire of slow-moving vehicles, we’d find it hard to believe that she’d actually stand in front of a body of seasoned elected officials and spout such nonsense about a very large gas station/minimart/car wash being built on a busy corner and actually alleviating traffic.

Who came up with that nonsense in the first place? Are there hard numbers to back such a claim? Did Tedrow realize that she was speaking to a group of extremely dedicated commissioners? Or was she confused and thought they were a class of children at nearby Villages Elementary of Lady Lake?

The driver of this vehicle was ticketed after a crash at County Road 466 and Rolling Acres Road in February 2017.
Commissioner Ruth Kussard

Obviously, we’re being somewhat facetious here, but one has to wonder why anyone in their right frame of mind would make such a ridiculous argument. Clearly, the motivation to put the 7-Eleven at the busy intersection is completely money-driven. We get that. But is there any concern whatsoever for the area residents who would have to negotiate that intersection with vehicles trying to come and go from a gas station/minimart/car wash? We’re guessing not.

Luckily, other commissioners appear to feel the same as Vincent.

Commissioner Tony Holden

“It is a horrendous road,” said Commissioner Ruth Kussard. “There have been backups of cars (on County Road 466) all the way back to Atria (assisted living.)”

“This corner is a traffic hazard all day long. Now we’re going to have tanker trunks coming and going? That’s the big hang-up with me,” said Commissioner Tony Holden.

Mayor Jim Richards said he would personally prefer driving through The Villages rather than braving the intersection, known for its many accidents.

Mayor Jim Richards

“I cannot in good conscience vote for a special exception knowing the condition of this intersection,” the mayor said.

Ahh, the accidents. The mayor brings up a very good point. That intersection is oftentimes like the Bermuda Triangle of roadways. Crashes are a common site there. And in one case, a father and son were even involved in accidents in the same spot several years apart.
Here’s a brief look at just some of the mayhem that’s gone on in the intersection:

As we said earlier, we applaud Lady Lake commissioners for their initial skepticism about allowing a 7-Eleven to be built on the corner of such a busy intersection. Commissioners are likely to hear the continuation of lawyer Tedrow’s magic-beans-like presentation at the Dec. 17 meeting. But we’re quite confident they’ll rightly nip this project in the bud and hold off on allowing any such venture at the busy intersection until the day comes that the much-needed improvements finally are made on Rolling Acres Roads.

Vehicles are constantly on the move in the busy intersection of County Road 466 and Rolling Acres Road.