Reserves at Wildwood Subdivision Given Preliminary Approval
Updated: Sep 22, 2020
Rome was not built in a day, and if ever completed neither will have the "Reserves at Wildwood". The subdivision was given preliminary approval by Wildwood's planning and zoning commission on Tuesday.
At the heart of the decision is a 50 acre parcel in Wildwood's town center. It is expected to be one of the last higher density housing options to be built in Town Center. Lower density home options with a three acre minimum lot size requirement represents a majority of likely development, which lies beyond the city's "New Urbanism" hub. Decades of zoning changes, and various proposals for the site resulted in a site report over 150 pages.
In an interview with Wildwood Matters, Mayor Jim Bowlin stated that he believed that "this would probably be the last neighborhood development in Town Center", due to the status of the remaining plots zoned for higher density region. Bowlin, who spearheaded the ordinance to preserve larger or "Grand Trees" during development said that he not only supports the lengthy approval process but as a voting member of the Zoning Commission and as Mayor fought for larger lot sizes, which reduced the number of homes form 159 down to 133.
The mayor also pushed for phased clearing of land for the project, wherein vegetation and trees will be planted in a portion of the site that has been cleared before working on another section. The Grand Tree ordinance he spearheaded is intended to preserve not only some of the more larger trees, but also area around them. The increased setbacks, community pathways and spaces as well as lower density was also something supported by the Mayor and the commission. "This will be one of the most ecologically friendly developments in Town Center," stated Bowlin.
The report details the years of history of the site, which included the following:
In 1989, the parcel was zoned for commercial development. Prior to Wildwood's incorporation in 1995, Dierbergs had started plans to develop the site.
Subsequent to the incorporation of the City of Wildwood, the plot was included in the city Town Center, which was to be the higher density portion of Wildwood and developed according to the tenants of "New Urbanism". It was again zoned for "commercial" development.
In 2007, Desco Group attempted to build a major commercial center. Anchored with a Target, the project would have included several smaller stores with a total footprint of 350,000 square feet. The project never gained final approval.
On February 6th, 2017 a public hearing on a proposal by Payne Family Homes L.L.C. to build a subdivision named Ackerly Place on the site. The lot then and now is in Wildwood's Town Center, which is where higher density housing options are to be located. Outside of that region, homes are in general to be on 3 acre lots. The original plan was for 158 homes.
A July 17, 2017 a revised plan responded to concerns from the commission. The number of homes was raised by one to 159.
A second, August 7, 2017 plan, among other things reduced the number of homes to 156.
On September 17, 2018 a third revised plan again reduced the number of homes to 135.
A fourth, November 28, 2018 plan again reduced the number of homes, this time to 133.
On Tuesday, the zoning commission gave approval to a fifth revised plan for the subdivision now called the "Reserve at Wildwood". The number of homes remained at 133 but included as did the other revisions a variety of consideration. This revision included, increased set backs, mandating garden walls with public easements, narrower driveways, side or rear entry garages, a prohibition on double door garages and architectural treatments such as trellises and enhanced pavement surfaces.
The complete report may be downloaded below.
A proposal for new boundary zoning of a Neighborhood Edge Transition District (Net) was proposed by the Town Center Update Team. The NET proposal was for a transitional zoning from the town center higher density development to the lower density development in the rest of Wildwood. Wildwood's planning department suggested in its report that the proposed NET would not be appropriate for the development.
The plan for the 50 acre parcel that was once to be alternatively a Dierbergs and then a Target , now goes to the council for consideration. If it is rejected it will likely go back before the zoning commission for another revision.
It has been an odyssey indeed, but one that helps preserve the natural beauty in a City that was founded primarily out of zoning concerns.
Jastrow / Public domain
Image of home is a stock photo, and is not a home from the "Reserves at Wildwood".