Neighbors who live near the business center St. Croik in Leyland are protesting plans to expand the center, saying it would dramatically change the purpose of the property.
The business center, completed in 2000, is currently home to Premium Moving & Storage, Metro Dentalcare and Surf and Turf Direct.
Owner Jackie Aldridge has applied for an amended conditional use permit for the property to allow for up to three additional tenants and to allow for internal division of the building’s storage space. He also wants to add a new portable loading dock on the west side of the existing warehouse space and a night parking lot for trucks for rent in the enclosure.
Lakeland City Council is expected to vote on the amended CUP application at its meeting on Tuesday night.
Plot of 2.7 acres, located at 44 St. Croik Trail S., is a zoned retail store, and Aldridge’s plans do not require deviations or redevelopment of the land, said the employee of the city of Lakeland, Michelle Elsner.
Residents living near the business center in the Elmwood neighborhood have expressed a number of concerns about the plans since they were first considered by the Lakeland City Council last fall. Among them: increased traffic of large trucks, noise and pollution of diesel engines and increased work on the construction site.
One of the loudest critics was Julie Tron, the wife of a member of the Lakeland City Council, Mother Tron; the couple lives directly behind the business center of St. Croik.
“It’s just not compatible with the neighborhood, especially with such close homeowners,” said Julie Thron. “There is no buffer. He would return to our yard immediately. All our houses are on higher levels, and the main floor is above the 6-foot fence, so we can see clearly into the property, and the headlights shine in our windows at night. ”
One of the biggest concerns is the potential exhaust from moving trucks, she said.
“They say they will turn off the trucks and will not let them stand still, but with a diesel truck in the winter, do you really think that will happen?” I do not think like that.”
The former tenant of the building, Anchors Aveigh Boat Warehouse, recently moved to Afton; Julie Tron said that the job of storing boats was a good neighbor because she had no activity from late autumn to early spring because the boats are stored for the winter.
Premium Moving & Storage, on the other hand, will work all year round, and they have publicly stated that they want to grow the business, she said.
Aldridge, who lives in Naples, Florida, said she has no plans to expand the footprint of the business center or the scope of use.
“But we have to adjust to attract new tenants and meet the needs of our current tenants,” she said. “Costs continue to rise. This year alone, I had a property tax increase of 26 percent and I have to stay financially viable if we want the business center to remain open. ”
Jim Gasperini, Aldridge’s lawyer, said he expected Lakeland City Council to approve her application. “This is not a substantial change in use at all,” he said. “What they are proposing is allowed by the existing city zoning regulations.”
He said Aldridge had already made “significant concessions to all neighbors and neighboring properties”, including a large buffer zone on the west side of the property.
“She has proven to be a good neighbor, and she will continue to do so,” he said. “In the past 20 years, there have been no complaints that I am aware of, and she does not expect that there will be any in the future.
The new port of the business center would be oriented in the north-south direction “so that there will be no lights towards the western neighbors”, he said. The truck parking lot will also face east, he said.
Working hours will still be from 7 am to 7 pm, seven days a week, plus 24-hour administrative use, Aldridge said.
Mayor Joe Payment said the council strongly encouraged Aldridge and nearby residents to meet and try to reach a mutually acceptable set of conditions that would allow for a change in property use. I still think that is the best solution. I am still optimistic that they could do that. “
Thron said attempts to reach a solution were unsuccessful. She said that many residents of the Elmwood neighborhood have lived in their homes for more than 30 years and invested in them, “relying on the fact that the business center will function as it has for the last 20 years.”
In addition to exhaust fumes and diesel truck lighting, neighbors are concerned about reduced property value, increased noise, visual impact, operating hours and increased truck traffic in Washington DC 18 / St. Croik Trail, she said.
The road is a narrow corridor with three roundabouts, one of which is near Afton-Lakeland Elementary School, and has extensive use of bike / hiking trails on both sides of the road, she said.
“If this passes, we will have 26-foot diesel trucks crossing the bike / pedestrian path on the west side of District 18 to get in / out of the St. Louis Business Center. Croik, ”she said. “This type of work that is proposed by definition is a ‘truck depot’, which should be in an industrial park – not near a residential area.
The Swanson / Haskamp City Zoning Company, which originally dealt with the modified CUP application, is no longer under contract with the city; zoning is done on a temporary basis by Rum River Construction Consultants, a company contracted to inspect buildings in Lakeland.
Lakeland City Council will discuss three new zoning companies at its meeting on Tuesday, Elsner said.
Neighbors, who call themselves the Elmwood Concerned Group, are hoping the council will reject the report. Twenty-four years ago, members of the group helped defeat plans for a 4,000-square-foot store, gas station, car wash and car repair shop that was proposed for the property.
“We like that the business center is there,” Thron said. “It’s a beautiful building, and it’s an advantage for the city. But there have been too many changes and inconsistencies with this new proposal. We believe that this does not contribute to the improvement of the community. On the contrary, it diminishes it. This type of business belongs to the industrial park – not in the immediate vicinity of residential houses. The new business proposal should be compatible with neighboring properties and have minimal impact. ”