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SERVING NEEDS: Burnt Store area gets one step closer to retail, medical services

Bill and Laura Fischer applied for a zoning change for their 40+ acre property on Burnt Store Road.
Posted at 6:07 PM, Jul 09, 2024

CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla. — Burnt Store Area homeowners are one step closer to getting retail and medical services available to them along the corridor.

During a Charlotte County Planning and Zoning meeting on July 8, the board voted 2-1 to recommend approval of a request to change the zoning of a 41-acre parcel of land on Burnt Store Road from residential to commercial general.

The property, located at 17150 Burnt Store Rd., is owned by Bill and Laura Fischer of Pirate Harbor. The couple bought the property in 2022 and have been speaking with their neighbors about what could be developed there, other than houses, that would benefit the community.

Bill Fischer
Bill Fischer speaks with Fox 4's Charlotte County Community Correspondent Alex Orenczuk.

“Our plan has always been to help the community,” Bill Fischer told Fox 4’s Charlotte County Community Correspondent Alex Orenczuk. “Many of the residents have expressed a need for many things that currently require a 20-30 mile round trip, one of them being an urgent care.”

Fischer said the property was at one point a nursery, so the land and drainage is already ideal for development.

"Its right across from Peppercorn Road, so we have a median opening and a dedicated southbound turning lane already," said Fischer. "As you can see behind me its ready to go. Its cleared, we've already had all the tests for indigenous trees and wildlife on the property that we would need to be concerned about, and there is none."

Fischer Property
The Fischer's property, located at 17150 Burnt Store Road.

During the Planning and Zoning meeting, a staff report presented by Jie Shao, principal planner for the county, determined that the Fischer’s rezoning application “is not consistent with Charlotte County’s Comprehensive Plan, the Burnt Store Area Plan, Charlotte County's Code of Laws and Ordinances and other applicable guidelines.”

Several Burnt Store area homeowners and members of the Burnt Store Corridor Coalition spoke in favor of the change, and welcomed Fischer's development plan for the property.

The Fischers countered the county staff’s presentation and conclusion with one of their own, represented by attorney Amy Thibaut, planning expert Jason Green and transportation expert Jason Utley.

The trio argued that the Fischer’s request for a zoning change did meet the county’s requirements and should be recommended for approval from the BCC.

“We have met the standards of approval,” said Thibaut in closing. “We have demonstrated that through both our documentary evidence and the testimony you have heard from these experts here today, we would respectfully request recommendation of approval of this.”

thault.jpg
Amy Thibaut, and attorney representing the Fischers addresses the county's Planning and Zoning Board.

Prior to the vote, Board Chair Michael Gravesen, during an exchange with Thibaut stated, “you came in here and lectured us on this process, on state law and everything, and I took offense to that,” which prompted some members of the audience to leave.

Ultimately, the board voted 2-1 in favor of recommending approval of the zoning change. Graveson stated that he voted no “just to give commissioners some reason to think about it.”

Commissioners will now consider the zoning change during a meeting on September 10.