Sumter County officials want to see more gas stations and restaurants at interchanges

Interstate 75 and the Florida Turnpike carry thousands of cars each day through Sumter County.

County commissioners hope more drivers will stop and spend money.

They gave final approval Tuesday to a plan to promote commercial development at several interchanges, hoping to add gas stations, fast-food restaurants and other businesses. They endorsed land-use amendments that designate these areas for urban development.

“The proposal indicates our intent to facilitate intense commercial development at these interchanges,” said Karl Holley, county development services director.

The plan was reviewed by the state without objection, although state officials will continue to monitor development because of their oversight of interstate highways.

Targeted interchanges include I-75 at county roads 470 and 673 in southwestern Sumter County. At CR 470, the plan would expand development west of the interstate.

Significant development already is in place at the intersection of I-75 and State Road 44, while some development has occurred at the U.S. 301 and turnpike intersection in Wildwood.

Under the plan, utility lines for municipal sewer and water will be extended to the development areas.

A report prepared for the state Department of Transportation on interchange land development strategies emphasizes the importance of careful planning.

“It is critical to create an uncluttered environment, with good signage and easement in accessibility,” the report stated. “Ideally, traffic leaving a freeway should not compete with traffic leaving a site.”

Commissioner Doug Gilpin said the interchange development plan is important to the county’s growth.

“It’s going to really help us out in the future,” he said. “It’s much needed.”