The Jan. 7 meeting with the City of Lakeland’s Community Development department did not go as well as we had hoped. We requested changes to our south PUD (planned unit development) to allow for demolition of one duplex and an addition of a two-story 20-bed expansion to existing Porter McGrath Health Center (our skilled nursing) and 54 space parking lot be classified as a minor modification. Unfortunately, the needed changes to proceed with this project will be classified as a major modification. What is the difference? Two to three months of additional meetings and reviews. With tight guidelines from the state in which construction must start by February 2016, this was a disappointment to say the least.
It must be said that FPH Executive Director John Hehn pointed out that the many changes to the north and south PUDs in the past have been classified as minor and were far more comprehensive in density and intensity thresholds; this project would simply be adding on to an existing building, with the same height, design details, etc. The reply from the City official was not a positive one.
The “happy spot” of the meeting came when reviewing the much needed parking plans. The historic Stanyard house will have to be relocated down the street to provide the 54 parking spaces and a buffer of landscaping. Also, construction manager Joe Diaz was told the timeline of meetings and what needed to be presented at each meeting, and what to expect. That was extremely helpful and appreciated.