EPC, Gates High Meeting Set for Thursday

The latest plans for the Sunset Lane site and its impact on the environment will be discussed.

Residents interested in learning more about the environmental impact of Gates High School's proposed campus on Sunset Lane can attend a meeting with the EPC and school representatives on Thursday, Feb. 28.

"Attendees will see is a revised site plan that shows the actual impact to the wetlands, which is less than an acre," said Patti Girard, Executive Director of Learning Gate Educational Foundation. "It will also show that we are spanning a large part of the wetland area with a wooden bridge. We have to cross the wetlands in order to have access to the property."

The meeting is a result of a the letters sent to the EPC by residents citing concerns about the wetlands and what will happen to them when the school is  built, Girard said.

"EPC is required to list the property as 'heightened concern' and are required to hold a workshop for the neighborhood to ask questions," she said.

Lutz residents opposed to the proposed charter school campus formed a No School on Sunset Facebook page  to speak out against the proposed campus, including plans for an amphitheater. 

"I guess we can now add noise pollution to the long list of examples demonstrating a total disregard for our community and neighbor's quiet tranquility that Lutz used to offer," Patrice Fountain Eveld wrote on the Facebook page.

Thursday's meeting is strictly to deal with wetland issues, septic and water issues, Girard said. "Our pre-application meeting with both EPC and SWFMD has been very positive to the point of commenting that they wish everyone was so mindful of the wetlands."

As far as the amphitheater goes, it has always been drawn on the concept site plans made available to neighbors. However, someone took a photo of the plans during Learning Gate Community School's Ecofest and sent it to Lutz Citizens Coalition founder Mike White, who then raised the issue of noise pollution, Girard said.

The amphiteater issue will not be discussed at Thursday's meeting, she said.

"This meeting will be an excellent opportunity for our parents to see what we have been up against and will give them a very good idea of the layout of the campus. They will also see how committed we are to building the high school despite all of this negativity from a small group of Lutz neighbors."

The meeting will be held from 6:15 to 7:45 p.m. in the cafeteria at Lutz Elementary School, 202 5th Ave SE.

Note: Patch Editor Keli Sipperley's child currently attends Gates High School.

James White February 27, 2013 at 08:08 PM
I would not really classify a group of approximately 250 local residents a "small group of Lutz neighbors". Again, we are NOT opposing the school, only its proposed location. Gates has not shown much in the way of understanding how the size and scope of this 1,000+ student, 180,000 sq/ft (under roof) project will negatively effect this community.
Mark Eveld February 27, 2013 at 09:26 PM
The Lutz Community Growth Plan states that high schools must be ON 4 lane roadways. It does not say that the school can just figure out a way to get to the 4 lane roadway even if it means destroying wetlands. This school is not ON US-41. Their proposal to handle a couple of thousand cars per day traversing over a wood bridge over the wetlands is an insult to anyone who really cares about the environment. The wetlands shaded under the bridge are forever changed. Any oil, grease, etc. from the cars just drips through the wood slats into the drink!
Mark Eveld February 27, 2013 at 09:27 PM
The Lutz residents who are opposed to this are the ones that are directly affected and the school should be working with the most. The schools response to these residents is, “They will see how committed we are to building the high school despite all of this negativity from a small group of Lutz neighbors.” The school has no regard for the neighbors. Why should they? Only 25% of their students are from Lutz. The neighbor group may have started off small but is growing every day as more citizens find out what is really going on here. The first public hearing on the project was almost completely hidden. The sign on Sunset was placed parallel to the street where nobody would see it or have time to read it without getting run over. The amphitheatre is one of many things that were hidden and who knows how many more are coming. I have never heard of an amphitheatre being called a “Performing Arts Center” before this. The “Concept Plans” are not much more than napkin sketches at this point. Any person that is rubber stamping this project as a “Go” based on the sketchy and deceptive information that LG is providing should be relieved of his duties.
Gregory Hofschneider February 27, 2013 at 09:48 PM
Neither Pati Girard and/or anyone else from Learning Gate/Gate High School had anything with calling this meeting. This IS NOT their meeting. In fact they did all they could to stop it. Someone needs to point out there is a connection between Gates/Leaning Gate and former EPC and SWFMD employee and one of Gates Officer/Directors Stanly Kroh and EPC and SWFMD Director Dr. Garrity. Too bad Ms. Girard doesn't have the passion for telling the truth and complying to the commitments she has already made. With all the violations she has amassed at Learning Gate, why should we believe this project is any different? It's a wonder they have not already broken ground...or have they. Pati, I'm sure it's a wonderful campus. The community just wants you to take your lies else ware. I wonder... will someone from the schools bring enough cool-aid for us all to drink?
James White February 28, 2013 at 02:02 AM
I believe that Gates depended far too much upon slight-of-hand tactics, and the naive unconditional approval and perhaps well intentioned Lutz Civic Association, without divulging it to those most directly effected by this project. In full disclosure: James White is the founder and President of the Lutz Citizens Coalition.


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