April 1, 2015. This is not an April fool! If we do not take immediate action on this, the entire quality of life and property values in our residential community near Markham Woods Road in Longwood, FL will be permanently affected.
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FDOT personnel are very welcome to participate in this blog. We wish to be fair to their considerations, but as a community, we have to represent our interests.
Here is a summary: The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has decided to expand the rest stops at highway markers 94 (westbound) and marker 96 (eastbound) of I-4.
Follow along by going to bobsgallery.digido.com/ This will create a new browser window onto my photo gallery where you can view the effect of this proposed rest stop expansion on the quality of life and property values of this residential community. The photos are taken looking North from the backyards on Northridge Drive. In the first photograph, dated April 2015, near the back left you can see some of the buildings of the current rest stop hidden behind trees.
To the best of my knowledge, this is the only rest stop (primarily a truck stop) in a residential area along I4. This proposed expansion will have an impact to the entire community near Markham Woods Road. Please study the photos at the gallery and come back to read my next post and respond!
A bit of history:
We moved into the neighborhood in 1996. At that time, every spring Whooping Cranes would stop at the retention pond in the back, which at that time was very full. But due to climate change, the pond has pretty much dried up and the Whooping Cranes have not been seen for years. The next significant event was the widening of I4 in the early 2000's. Aside from the disturbance due to the construction noise, the FDOT took part of the community's right of way and cut down considerable trees adjacent to the highway. They replaced these trees with little saplings and told us that "within 10 years these will grow up and you won't notice any of the noise". Well, about 14 years later we still have far more noise from I4 than we had prior to the year 2000. The highway noise is disturbing enough so that picnics on the deck are less than pleasant unless we mentally tune out the noise (some of us can, some of us cannot).
So, trees are very important! Trees are important to the aquifer, they help maintain the integrity of the soil and they help reduce noise from the highway. As you can see from the map (photo 4 at Bob's Gallery). The area encircled in blue is designated to become an expanded retention pond. The pond is needed to offset the runoff from the parking lot (circled in green), which will be needed if they construct the two-story 50,000 square foot RTMC site and highway patrol station (in orange). In other words.... they would not need to expand the retention pond if they did not need to construct so many parking spaces and if they did not need the proposed office building! The first stage of the construction will remove a vast number of trees in the circled blue area and dig a hole for the retention pond and the parking lot. You can view the impact of that by comparing photo 2 with photo 3 at Bob's Gallery. Watch the trees disappear! The second stage of the construction would be to build the 2 story building. Imagine having half a Walmart in the back yard of your (formerly) beautiful residential neighborhood!