Lee County denies Alico Road access to possible new Publix store


Benderson Development has failed to convince Lee County Commissioners to allow it new access points on Alico Road for the entrance to Alico Consumer Square, a planned mall that has yet to be approved by the county.

The retail stores would be part of a 740-acre commercial and industrial complex along Alico Road.

Benderson has yet to submit a development order proposal, which is necessary to begin construction. But even without a development plan in hand, the company requested specific access points to route traffic to a planned grocery store near Alico and Ben Hill Griffin Parkway.

The hearing was to follow the county transportation department’s request to have Alico Road designated a road with the added safety feature of a reduced number of road access points.

A Benderson traffic engineer called the site that needs the two desired access points a “grocery store anchored development.”

Descriptions of the grocery chain and store location by the developer’s lawyer suggest a Publix.

Commissioners voted 4-1, with Cecil Pendergrass against, to designate Alico Road as a controlled access road.

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With the proposed entry and exit lanes denied, the developer’s alternatives for entry and exit access to the site would be to have customers drive more than half a mile to an entrance to the site. back of the store. Another solution would be to cross the Alico-Ben Hill Griffin Parkway intersection.

The hearing was to be held in two stages, one at the normal commission meeting time last month and Tuesday at 5 p.m.

Lee’s commissioners approved the development zoning two years ago. The site begins at Alico and Ben Hill Griffin, continues on Alico Road and extends to Terminal Access Road.

The access requested by the proponent included a right turn into the property for westbound traffic on Alico Road. On leaving the property, traffic would have made a left turn heading east.

San Carlos Fire Chief David Cambareri on Tuesday raised concerns about safety along Alico Road at the development site.

He urged commissioners to reject the changes, noting that the fire district has land nearby on which it eventually wants to develop a new station to serve the rapidly growing area.

Lee County Commissioners have refused to allow developers of a large commercial and industrial complex at Ben Hill Griffin Parkway, left, and Alico Road, below, to create two specified entry points for a new grocery store which will be part of the complex.  The grocer was described as having "the only" supermarket south of Southwest Florida International Airport and east of Interstate 75. This description is for a nearby Publix store.

“I commend you for keeping access to Alico Road limited,” Cambareri said. “Over the past 27 years, I have witnessed a multitude of horrific accidents, especially in traffic from the pits. I support this as a public safety issue.”

The pits refer to the coal mining operations conducted off Alico Road by Cemex Construction Materials, the Youngquist family and Harper Brothers Inc.

The county has been in talks with Benderson for more than six years about developing access to the site, according to Randy Cerchie, county transportation director.

“We’re unlikely to grant the two moves they’re asking for,” Cerchie said at the May hearing. “They will be detrimental to traffic jams and the safety of Alico Road, especially when we connect to (State Road) 82.”

Cerchie left the door open for further discussion.

“We would be happy to meet them later, but it is unlikely that we will change our mind,” he said.

Alico Connector would direct traffic onto SR 82 and into Lehigh Acres to ease traffic on east / west roads.

Pendergrass argued that not making the changes Benderson requested “would create a traffic nightmare” on Ben Hill Griffin. He argued that access aisles can be constructed with safety measures in place.

“I wouldn’t want to create another nightmare like the one we currently have on Alico between I-75 and Ben Hill Griffin,” Pendergrass said last month.

Is the planned grocery store a Publix in preparation?

At the first hearing on Alico Road’s designation as a limited-access road, attorney Neale Montgomery, who represents Benderson, referred to the store as intended by a “privileged grocer” who operates “the only grocery store south of the airport and east of I-75. “

The description of the location of the other grocer in this area is for a store operated by Publix at Corkscrew Road and Ben Hill Griffin, which is south of the airport and east of I-75.

A spokesperson for Publix said he had no information that the company was involved in plans for a store on the Alico site.

Community relations manager Brian West said he receives a weekly report on new stores every Tuesday.

“New locations appear on the report once we have a signed lease,” West said. “At the moment, there is no information for a store at this location.”

Montgomery previously told Commissioners that “Wild Blue, Center Place and Miromar are all growing and the grocer has no capacity.”

A Benderson affiliate, MSF Austin-I LLC, owns land along Alico, from Ben Hill Griffin to Airport Haul Road. In recent years, Benderson has developed several Publix stores, many in Sarasota County.

Benderson Development Director Todd Mathes told commissioners at the Stage One hearing that access to the dual-entry driveway is important as the company considers construction.

“Our first off-ground project is going to be a neighborhood grocery store and mall on this street corner,” said Mathes. “It will be convenient and much better for people in the area to go back and forth between their new homes. . at the mall with those two extra moves. “

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