The Glen Lakes Master Plan Revision petition has had several appearances before the Planning and Zoning Commission and the BOCC. The main concern has been the width of the fire break. Initially, the developer offered a 25-foot buffer between the property line and the forest, but the P & Z suggested 100 feet.
Commissioner Nick Nicholson has been its most outspoken opponent because of the width of the fire break. Even when the FWC and Florida Forestry Services appeared at the 11/08/16 BOCC meeting to discuss the buffer and fire break, Nicholson remained steadfast. The final vote was postponed to allow time for the developer to meet with FWC and discuss increasing the width of the fire break.
At the 01/10/17 BOCC meeting, Assistant County Administrator Ron Pianta reviewed the P & Z recommendations for the developer, which included providing future property owners documents about becoming a Firewise Community and a 30-foot wide buffer which prevents any structures from being built/placed in that area which is directly adjacent to the wildlife management area (WMA).
Previous testimony and documents from FWC and the Forestry Service confirmed that the WMA would have a 30-foot fire break, bringing a total distance of 60 feet of defensible space. Richard Matassa, who represents the developer, said that the FWC director in Tallahassee agrees with the distance of 30 feet in the WMA and 30 feet on the Glen Lakes side as being sufficient to provide protection.
FWC was not interested in a public/private partnership, Matassa said. Having a well-maintained 60-foot wide buffer would be safer than a 100-foot zone that would allow vegetation to grow if not consistently maintained by the HOA. Commissioner John Allocco referred to an additional 15-foot setback which is allowed for patios and screened in pools on the property, for a total buffer distance of 75 feet to the house structure.
No one from the community came forward to express concerns. Nicholson stated he wanted to go on record opposing a measure that would “allow people’s houses to burn to the ground.” Chairman Wayne Dukes, who recalled the wildfires of 1998, stated the Royal Highlands development, which has no fire buffer, is unsafe.
The final vote was 3-1, with Nicholson opposing.