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Charlotte County Commissioners unanimously approved preliminary plats Tuesday for two proposed subdivisions in the county. 

Texas-based homebuilder D.R. Horton requested approval of a preliminary plat for a subdivision to be named Shell Oaks consisting of 110 single‐family lots and 11 tracts. The 40-acre site is north of Vermont Road, south of Arrowhead Circle and west of Quail Drive within the east county area. 

The county added a condition stating no construction can begin and no building permits, including for model homes, may be issued for the lots without street names. 

The planning and zoning board recommended approval of the request in April. 

Resident Tim Ritchie spoke in opposition to the approval because of the influx of development in the county, his main concern being increased response times for first responders due to more traffic. 

“Putting more cars on the road [puts] more stress on our infrastructure,” Ritchie said. 

The second subdivision approved was Miami-headquartered Lennar Homes’ preliminary plat for Harbor East, which is planned for 82 single-family lots and six tracts. The 31-acre site is north of Tate Waterway, southwest of Interceptor Lagoon and east of Aquarius Waterway within the Port Charlotte area. 

Some residents from the South Gulf Cove community spoke in opposition to the project because of concerns regarding protection of mangroves, referencing an alleged unlawful installation of riprap and clearing of mangroves in the Harbor West community. 

“A lot of times people talk about mangroves, which are actually Brazilian peppers,” applicant representative Robert H. Berntsson of The Big W Law Firm. “These areas that were cleared many years ago contain as many Brazilian peppers as anything on them. So, I would submit to you that just because you see something green that was cut along the waterway doesn’t mean it was cutting of mangroves.” 

Planning and zoning official Shaun Cullinan said there were complaints last year about potential removal and erosion issues where dirt and silt were washing into a canal. The state agencies responsible were notified and determined that it was normal erosion, Cullinan said. 

“I don’t know of any preclusion to any of these properties going through proper permitting, not being allowed to put in armoring, whether that be a seawall, whether that be riprap and docks, as long as they go through all the proper permitting,” he said. “If there are properties that they feel have put in that armoring already without proper permits, we’d be happy to investigate that through the code enforcement process.”  

Ritchie also opposed the Lennar Homes subdivision, asking commissioners to consider a moratorium on development.  

Commissioner Stephen Deutsch tried to ease Ritchie’s development concerns, stating one-third of the county will never be developed because it’s county- and state-owned land. 

Notification of public hearings were sent to all property owners within 1,000 feet of each site boundary. Approval allows D.R. Horton and Lennar Homes to apply for a final site plan review, and then obtain final plat approval from the commissioners to begin construction. 

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