The first solar-powered town in the world just gained another step in the approval process to expand into northern Lee County. Previously, some residents of Lee County had objected to a proposal by Babcock Ranch developers to construct a mega-sports complex there. While the latest approval by county commissioners nixes that, complete details of the plan won’t be known publicly until a zoning hearing, possibly coming in early fall.
A recent commission vote, though, moves the project that much closer to gaining the second approval it needs for expansion. Recently, the vote by Lee County Commissioners approved around 1,600 dwelling units and more than one million square feet of development for non-residential use. This is to include hundreds of hotel rooms.
As well, about half of the land, or 2,000 acres, will stay as protected land, thereby undeveloped. In addition, approved plans call for replanting wetlands and agricultural fields with native vegetation to help with runoff. A previous agreement called for Babcock to maintain wildlife corridors to the river within its property on both sides of the county line.
From the beginning, Babcock Ranch has maintained a unique vision, with the first of thousands of planned homes and commercial space beginning to take shape in southern Charlotte County already. The sustainable community offers its own solar field to power the town, supplemented with homes designed to sit within a short walk of Founder’s Square.
The social hub of the community, Founder’s Square will provide a space for dining, shopping, a splash pad and a future health and wellness center. In addition, a neighborhood school opens in just a couple of months.
Recently, too, the town announced live music, open to the public, would be playing each week at the Founder’s Square band shell. Not only is this expected to give visitors a chance to see all the future possibilities, but also witness the connection to nature, with the community’s numerous lakes and hiking trails.
In all, Babcock Ranch plans to someday be home to more than 19,000 homes and millions of square feet of commercial space. The first neighborhood, Lake Timber, currently has model homes.