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The Villages
Thursday, July 29, 2021

Villages of Southern Oaks to reach as far south as Bushnell

The Villages of Southern Oaks eventually will extend as far south as Bushnell after Wildwood commissioners Monday night approved several agreements and ordinances related to the giant development.

They approved age-restricted zoning for various parcels, including a large one along the Sumter-Lake county line that extends south to State Road 48. The parcels were annexed into Wildwood at an earlier meeting.

A flurry of agreements and ordinances also allows permanent food trucks in developing areas and splits the Villages of Southern Oaks into two sectors.

Overall, The Villages Land Co. has acquired 15,924 acres in south Wildwood that is designated for age-restricted development. Agreements with Wildwood put the maximum number of homes allowed at 40,000 to 65,000. More homes can be built on adjacent land in Leesburg.

The southernmost rezoned Villages property begins about two miles south of County Road 470 and extends south to State Road 48. Areas to the north and west retain agricultural zoning.

In 2017, the Buffalo Hide & Cattle Co., an entity linked to The Villages, sought agricultural zoning for 4,130 acres adjacent to the west, which earlier was slated for homes in the Landstone development. That project was abandoned after the 2008 collapse of the real estate market.

This area south of CR 470, now designated as Area B under the split, is where home building likely is at least a few years away. Under the latest agreement with Wildwood, this area can have 14,455 homes, 1.8 million square feet of commercial/office space and 110,000 square feet of office/government space and additional recreational areas.

Area A, between U.S. 301 and CR 470 on both sides of the Florida Turnpike, is where current development is centered. This area can have 25,845 homes, 2.5 million square feet of commercial/office space and 32,000 square feet of office/government space.

Another 2,800 homes can be built in the Village of West Lake in Leesburg, where The Villages Land Co. bought 1,127 acres for $7.4 million last fall. Under an agreement, Sumter County will provide building permits and inspections for this area north of CR 470 and east of County Road 501 on both sides of the Florida Turnpike.

Commissioners also resolved an issue with a Villages Land Co. request to allow limestone mining on undeveloped portions of its holdings. The special magistrate, acting as the Wildwood Planning and Zoning Board, objected to an unrestricted mining allowance so permit requirements were added.

Other permitted uses in Southern Oaks include hospice, hotels, hospitals, recreation, golf courses, government, institutional, civic, medical campuses, multi-use trails, light industrial, urban agriculture, recreational vehicle development, silviculture, farming, animal husbandry, assisted living, independent living, nursing homes and memory care centers. Communications towers do not require a special permit.

Southern Oaks will be served by a network of regional roads built by Sumter County. Traffic studies by Kimley-Horn & Associates estimated that the development eventually will generate nearly 80,000 daily trips.

The agreements also allow food trucks as a permanent use in Southern Oaks. The Villages Developer sent food trucks to the new area in June to fill a restaurant void.

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