Florida Park's Conversion Plan Hits a Snag
Plans to expand the Sandhill Shores Mobile Home Park in Fort Pierce, Fla., into a combination mobile home and recreational vehicle park are under way by PCA Fort Pierce Homes LLC, which owns the property.
The community has 376 lots, but 226 lots are unoccupied. Empty mobile homes sit on 39 lots.
City commissioners decided to postpone voting on the park owners' application for conditional use at Monday’s meeting following support and opposition from residents, tcpalm.com, Stuart, reported.
The community, formerly known as Plantation Manor, was once near capacity before the downturn in the economy. A number of homes were also lost in the 2004 hurricanes. PCA purchased the property through foreclosure in December 2008.
Many manufactured homes have remained vacant amid unfavorable market conditions and a decline in desirability, according to attorney Michael D. Pangia, who represents PCA through the Martin Aequitas law firm. However, many seasonal occupants are turning to high-end recreational vehicles as an alternative.
City commissioners approved an ordinance in November permitting combination mobile home and recreational vehicle parks for medium density residential use.
The city planning board voted unanimously to recommend the approval for conditional use at Sandhill Shores, but a number of residents from the south side of the property voiced concerns and objections at Monday’s commission meeting.
The planning department sent out 331 notifications to property owners within 500 feet of the development with 69 disapproving and 10 approving the project, according to the responses, said Ryan Sweeney, development review manager.
Residents of the bordering Lakes, the Savannahs and the Preserve communities spoke about the potential for attracting transients in RVs, the distance of RVs from the roadway, RVs parking outside late at night if the gated community was closed, the addition of children in the over-55 community and crime enforcement issues.
Bill Clancy, president of the Savannahs Homeowners Association, told commissioners heavy backup traffic with additional RVs could result because of the nearby railroad crossing and also voiced concerns about diesel fuel from engines causing health issues when the vehicles start up after being idle for some time.
Pangia said rules still are in place for the community regarding limited stays for children. The plans place RVs far into the park, separated by rows of mobile homes, away from roadways and out of sight from neighboring properties.
Maggie Stalhut, supervisor for the Sandhill Shores community patrol and coordinator for crime watch, said the area has been safe and will continue to be safe because of residents who continually watch the area.
The high-end RVs would be required to be at least 30 feet long and popup campers would not be allowed, Pangia said. Affluent seniors would most likely use the vehicles. The community, which has always attracted seasonal occupancy, would require RVs to stay at least 30 days. PCA has spent about $300,000 on improvements to facilities and recreational areas at Sandhill Shores, Pangia said.
Commissioners said they were sympathetic to both sides and were about to vote on the measure following a motion by Commissioner Reginald Sessions and second by Commissioner Rufus Alexander. However, Alexander rescinded after Commissioner Ed Becht suggested Pangia meet with the residents without risking losing the vote and waiting another six months to come back for review.
Commissioners suggested the two sides try to reach solutions on at least some issues and voted to hear the request again at their May 20 meeting.