Davenport residents fight against development of 1.5 million square foot warehouse

Traffic, safety and noise are top concerns

DAVENPORT, Fla. - Development in Polk County is exploding.

But, residents in Davenport are hitting the brakes when it comes to a 1.5 million square foot warehouse, which could be built in their backyard.

Seefried Industrial Properties owns the land, which could become an industrial site as soon as next year.

Seefried is most commonly known for their large and successful warehouses, often time occupied by Amazon.

Seefried is currently building an Amazon warehouse in Orlando.

The issue comes down to the proximity of many residential neighborhoods in Davenport.

 “I do not want a warehouse there,” Kate Bernard, a homeowner in the Loma Del Sol neighborhood said.

Bernard’s neighborhood has been in the area for the past two decades.

When Bernard first moved in she says it was trees as far as the eye could see. Bernard knew development would come, and welcomes it but says this is crossing the line.

“I am not against the development, I say retail yes, residential yes warehouse no,” Bernard said.

Neighbors first found out about the commercial developer’s plan in August during an HOA meeting at Loma Del Sol.

Right away both Kate Bernard and Rick Arenas jumped into action to find out more about the project and see what they could do about it.

“A warehouse in a residential area, it's noise it smells and there are safety concerns,” Rick Ahrens, who also opposes the industrial site says.

Neighbors say they aren’t against the retail giant, Seefried or any other developments, they just believe it belongs on the other side of Highway 27, where many other industrial sites currently sit.

Another concern, according to Ahrens and Bernard, is the fact the warehouse would sit in between two important parts of the community.

“Public safety, because it's right in between our fire station and our police station,” Ahrens said.

When visiting the site, it is obvious how large the site would be, as at one end a Polk County Fire sub-station sits, and more than a mile away the Polk County Sheriff’s Office sub-station sort of book-ends the end of the zoned-land.

“I think it's a traffic nightmare,” Ahrens said. 

Other industrial warehouses like Amazon and Walmart operate around the clock, so noise is another factor in the proximity of the site.

“We are 2 miles away from I-4 and US 27 is a six lane major thoroughfare for traffic in the area,” Ahrens said. 

Ahrens says it would increase traffic issues, which would intern make the two major highways - even louder than they already are.

Kate and Rick also don’t want to see their property values drop, ones which are just rebounding.

According to property records, the plot of land is zoned for retail use. 

And in the past, commission has voted to keep industrial sites to the opposite side of Highway 27.

While the warehouse could potentially bring jobs to the area, resident say they’d rather have Seefried seek out a different piece of property.

“In case anybody isn't aware, Amazon is working very diligently and other warehouses as well to automate their systems and automate workers,” Bernard said.

“We don’t want that in our neighborhood,” Ahrens agreed.

ABC Action News did reach out to Paul Seefried, with Seefried Industrial Properties, but has not returned out call.

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