SUN CITY CENTER — A community vote last week revealed that a vast majority of Sun City Center residents opposed opening a public access road from S Pebble Beach Boulevard to busy U.S. 301.
Local developer Minto Group Inc. considered opening a full intersection last year, eventually deciding to restrict the access road to emergency vehicles. But before the Board of County Commissioners could approve the developer's plan, residents wanted to voice their opinions.
Some thought opening the road to residents would be a benefit, giving people a shortcut to the Publix or Walmart on U.S. 301. Others feared increased traffic.
More than 400 people attended a January meeting about the issue, and throughout the following month, Sun City Center's community association collected yay or nay ballots.
The final tally came Feb. 23 — 310 people in favor of the full public opening, 2,669 against it.
"I think the people have spoken," said Ed Barnes, president of the association, which remained neutral on the matter. "This was a reasonably significant change for the community and with a lot of interest."
Minto will now continue with the original plan to build an emergency-only passage, assuming county commissioners approve it.
"I'm just glad the process was able to vet itself," said Minto vice president Bill Bullock. "We're happy to carry the banner of the residents' wishes."
Bullock said the opening would be shut off to normal traffic by a 6-foot chain-link fence with a gate. Only police, fire or paramedic vehicles would be allowed through.
It will likely be several months before construction begins, Bullock said.
Kim Wilmath can be reached at (813)661-2442 or firstname.lastname@example.org.