Glades board told to acquire so-called county road

MOORE HAVEN — Glades County commissioners were surprised to learn Tuesday they may have to purchase and upgrade the one-lane country road erroneously marked as County Road 78B in Buckhead Ridge.

It’s actually named “Access Road” on other signs and on maps and is controlled by the South Florida Water Management District for access to the S-127 Lock. Neither the county nor Buckhead Ridge Subdivision nor another small development nearby has any access rights, the county board was told. Yet residents have been using it for years. Now, it will need widening and upgrades to accommodate a new development proposed just to the southwest.

Lake Okeechobee News/Chris Felker
The Florida Department of Transportation will require a turn lane be built on State Road 78 to CR 78B for access to the proposed G. Harvey Estates.

Community Development Director Susan BuChans explained that developer Glenn Harvey proposes to utilize the road’s path for access to his planned G. Harvey Estates development. He’s been working to make sure all state requirements are met before presenting his rezoning and development plans for Glades County review, in November, according to Mr. Harvey’s representative, Steve Dobbs. A four-phase development of about 531 acres is planned, with a total of 495 lots when completely built, and would include some commercial buildings along State Road 78.

Ms. BuChans listed options for how to proceed but said acquiring the road will affect the county’s budget because the county would take control and thus be responsible for maintenance. She suggested establishing a cost-sharing agreement with the developer. The other option is putting it up for public bid.

Mr. Dobbs said he believes the county should acquire the road and bring it up to standards. He said Mr. Harvey will only seek approval for the first phase initially, pointing out, “Putting it up for public bid is a danger not only to him but to the county…”

Lake Okeechobee News/Chris Felker
Commissioner Tim Stanley worries that the bridge to the left also may need improvements when the access road to the S-127 lock and the Herbert Hoover Dike actually becomes a county road as it’s already marked.

Ms. BuChans noted that the state will require a turn lane from SR 78 to the so-called “CR 78” and that it must be accepted by FDOT before any lots are developed. The board voted unanimously to have County Manager Martin Murphy and Ms. BuChans investigate purchasing the road from the SFWMD, report on potential costs of bringing it up to standards, work on an agreement to share costs with developer Harvey and bring back their recommendations as soon as possible. Mr. Dobbs said they were looking to secure final approvals by Feb. 8.

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