Truck stop planned off Berman Road

OKEECHOBEE — The Okeechobee County Board of Commissioners recommended approval of a proposed change to the Land Development Regulations (LDRs) Thursday to expand the designated Commercial Activity Center (CAC) on S.R. 710 near Berman Road. According to documents presented at the Nov. 9 meeting, the property owner wants to develop a truck stop on that site.

The property owner, Trees 15 LLC, asked the county to reclassify 11 acres to CAC. At an earlier public hearing, the Okeechobee County Planning Board recommended approval with a vote of 4-1. The current zoning is Agriculture.

The existing CAC in this area is about 17 acres in area. This change expands the area zoned CAC to 28.1 acres.

The property is at the intersection of a state highway and a major local road, SE 128th Avenue. The area is still primarily low-intensity agriculture in nature, with residential dwellings on some parcels, generally of 25 acres or more in area.

“My concern is under transportation, it says a 14.5 acre truck stop can be accomplished without any roadway improvements with the exception of a right turn lane onto Berman Road,” said Commissioner Kelly Owens.

“Berman Road itself is substandard in my opinion,” she said. “The turn coming off Berman Road at 710 is problematic. Trucks often turn over there.

Engineer Steve Dobbs, who represented the property owner at the meeting, said with the current footprint of that commercial activity center it would be very difficult to get an access off SR 710, but with additional road frontage from the 11 acres, there would be plenty of room there to accommodate it.

“I support the project,” said Commissioner David Hazellief.

“I have the same concerns as Commissioner Kelly,” he said.

“When it comes back, you and Mr. Dobbs can work out some right-of-way to eliminate the problem we have with ingress and egress onto SR 710,” he said to Bill Royce.

He noted the project will have to go through the Florida Department of Transportation, the Florida Department of Environmental Projection and the South Florida Water Management District for approvals before it comes back to the county.

The commissioners unanimously approved the comprehensive plan amendment recommendation.

Later in the meeting, during the commission discussion, Berman Road issues came up again.

“What we have is a residential road being used as a truck route,” said Commissioner Owens. “It’s killing our road maintenance budget.”

“It’s a county road, but we hopefully can get a stronger commitment from DOT,” she said.

“There are a lot of road maintenance needs we have in this county that are not being met because of the work we have to put into safety issues on Berman Road,” she said.
Commissioner Goodbread agreed, “Berman Road needs to be built up to truck route standards with full shoulders.

“It’s a danger when a truck is broken down on it,” he said. “It needs to be built to truck route standards rather than as a connector road. It needs to be totally re-engineered,” he said.

Board of County Commissioners – Regular Session; LDR amendment graphic.

Publisher/Editor Katrina Elsken can be reached at kelsken@newszap.com

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