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Murdock Village 02

Murdock Village may become first Main Street Charlotte

Land use project pilot for future

MURDOCK -- Walking down Main Street in Murdock, a visitor might encounter a beautifully manicured, tree-lined street with benches, store fronts which have an old town feel and a soothing atmosphere giving everyone a sense of community.

Of course there is no Main Street in Murdock, but the idea is there -- and if Charlotte County commissioners have anything to say about it, the idea may become the blueprint that will change the face of Charlotte forever.

Commissioners are meeting Tuesday at a workshop to discuss initiating the downtown concept on a plot of land known as Section 41 on county land-use maps.

This section comprises more than 125 acres of property bounded by Collingswood and Toledo Blade boulevards to the east and west respectively, and U.S. 41 and State Road 776 to the north and south.

Section 41 is just the first section of land county officials are looking at to develop and change zoning on, said Commissioner Adam Cummings .

"This is a pilot program where, if it works, this idea will be used in several other locations throughout Charlotte," Cummings said. "Of course, we have not decided where that will be."

Chairman Matt DeBoer said his ideas for this one site are not limited to the single square plot of land, but are part of a bigger picture.

That picture could include connecting the new Main Street or downtown Murdock to the new North Charlotte Regional Park and the Charlotte Sports Park, with an upscale development in between and paths connecting it all.

Population increases across Southwest Florida

From 1990 to 2000, Charlotte County witnessed its population soar by 28 percent. During the last Census, Charlotte County contained 110,975 residents. Now, there are 141,627 persons residing in the county.

Greater Rotonda Organization Chairman Bill Coy moved to Charlotte County in 1990 and has witnessed the last 10 years of growth first-hand.

"I've seen a lot of great changes," Coy said. "It's an amazing thing down here."

Coy packed up his belongings in New England and headed for Rotonda because of the people.

"I think it's the people that make it here," he said.

Rotonda has seen a lot of the last decade's growth, Coy said, as the area witnesses roughly 200 to 250 new homes built every year.

And while Charlotte County was once known for its elderly population, Coy said many younger families are moving into the region, buying older homes and renovating them.

With baby boomers beginning to retire, Coy said Charlotte County and area counties need to prepare for the onslaught.

"I think we've got to be prepared for it," he said.

While Charlotte County works toward the future its new economic development plan, Charlotte's northern neighbour, Sarasota County, also experienced an influx of new residents with a 17-percent increase.

In 1990, Sarasota County's population reached 277,776 and climbed to 325,957 last year.

Cumulatively, the tri-county area felt a 21-percent population explosion.

Though both Charlotte and Sarasota counties experienced population growths, neither witnessed an increase in diversity.

And while DeSoto County and others had an increase in the Latino population, Charlotte and Sarasota counties did not see such changes in diversity. Minorities make up only about 7 percent of the populations in Charlotte and Sarasota counties.

Source: Christy Arnold, Sun-Herald Tribune

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