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Frame The Importance of

Commercial Truck Insurance in Lake Wales, FL

  • Let's face it - truckers in America have always been the backbone of our great country. They still are in modern times. On any given day, thousands of trucks traverse our highways and local roads, delivering goods and products on time so that businesses and consumers have what they need to live life. And while commercial trucking can be an incredibly lucrative way to make a living and put food on the table, it can also be risky and expensive.
  • Whether you're the owner of a fleet, an independent trucker, or have a business that uses big rigs to transport goods, you need commercial trucking insurance to protect you and your client's investments, shield you from liability, and more.
  • That's where working with a reliable truck insurance agency comes into play. Unfortunately, for many commercial truck insurance providers, serving the needs of truckers is low on the proverbial totem pole. At Independence Insurance Agency, nothing could be further from the truth.

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Insurance Agency in Lake Wales, FL You Can Trust

Much like you pride yourself on running a successful trucking business, Independence Insurance Agency prides itself on its years of experience providing truck insurance for hardworking men and women across the country. And in our experience, insurance rates for truckers are just too high - so high, in fact, that they eat away at their bottom line, making it more difficult to run a business and make a profit. Fortunately, at Independence Insurance Agency, we provide truckers the freedom they need from astronomically high insurance rates so they can stay on the road and keep driving America forward.

As one of the most trusted commercial trucking insurance agencies in the U.S., we understand the challenges that you face daily as a trucker. We also know how important it is to protect your business. That's why we go above and beyond to find you the best-priced coverage available, whether you're an operator, own a small fleet, a large fleet, or something in between.

Commercial Truck Insurance Lake Wales, FL

We Put Truckers First Because Others Don't

 Truck Insurance Lake Wales, FL

Truckers across the country choose to work with Independence Insurance Agency because we put their needs first before anything else. As experts in transportation insurance, we proudly offer a range of quality insurance products that are both practical and affordable for them. Our industry-leading carriers provide coverage that caters to the unique challenges faced by the trucking industry, ensuring that your business is protected at all times.

At our core, we are committed to finding the best possible price for your coverage without compromising the quality of service you deserve. The truth is, we understand how essential truckers are to the United States and take pride in making their insurance experience more streamlined and affordable.

One way we do so is by simplifying the insurance process. Our transportation specialists take the time to understand your specific needs and budget to tailor a comprehensive plan that works for you. You won't ever have to worry about cookie-cutter plans or uninterested agents when you work with our commercial trucking insurance agency. We take an educational approach to ensure that the entire big rig insurance process is quick, painless, and easy to understand. If there's something you don't understand, we're happy to take the time to explain. After all, the success and safety of your business are on the line.

Looking to the future, we are committed to providing innovative new products that cater to the ever-changing needs of truck drivers. As your one-stop shop for commercial trucking insurance, we are dedicated to your success, one policy at a time.

If you're a commercial trucker looking to ensure your rig, you can rest easy knowing that Independence Insurance Agency provides:

  • Affordable Trucking Insurance Plans for Any Budget
  • Exemplary Customer Service
  • Seasoned Transportation Specialists Who Customize Plans to Your Needs
  • A+ Carriers Across the Country
  • Simple, Easy Quote and Bind Process
  • Multiple Insurance Carriers Quoted to Find You the Best Rates
  • Truck Insurance for New Ventures

Call us or send us a message today to learn more about the best 18-wheeler insurance options for your trucking business.

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Common Types of Big Rig Truck Insurance in Lake Wales, FL

At Independence Insurance Agency, we offer several types of insurance coverage for local, intermediate, and long-haul trucking needs. Here are just a few categories of trucking insurance coverage that our agency offers.

As the foundation of your insurance policy, liability coverage is required by law in most states in the U.S. It provides coverage for damage or injuries caused to properties or other people if your 18-wheeler is responsible for the crash. Without liability coverage, it's almost impossible to drive a truck or run a trucking business without major legal consequences.

Having physical damage coverage is an essential component that shouldn't be overlooked. This insurance is responsible for covering the expenses related to repairing or replacing your truck in situations such as accidents, theft, vandalism, and other damaging events. By having this coverage, you can rest assured that your business won't be affected significantly by unexpected incidents, and you can continue running your operations smoothly even in challenging times.

For trucking companies, the goods they transport are crucial to their operations. To protect these goods from damage, loss, or theft while in transit, cargo insurance is essential. This coverage provides much-needed peace of mind for both you and your clients, allowing you to reimburse clients for any losses sustained while protecting your reputation and brand identity.

Non-Trucking Liability Insurance is designed to cover property damage or bodily injury that may occur during personal time when the driver/truck is not under dispatch. This coverage can be applied with or without a trailer and is added to a commercial policy as an endorsement.

While Independence Insurance Agency has built a reputation of excellence in serving the needs of truckers, we also offer general liability. Also known as Truckers General Liability, this coverage insures for bodily injuries or property damage that happen due to business activities that are NOT the cause of operating a truck. It covers accidents that occur in parking lots, rest stops, also while loading or unloading. General liability can also cover losses related to theft and vandalism. Most brokers and shippers will require this coverage to work with you.

Bobtail insurance is a type of coverage that is comparable to non-trucking liability, which is designed to offer protection when driving a truck without a trailer attached. This is commonly referred to as "bobtailing." With bobtail insurance, the tractor is covered at all times, even when it is not attached to a trailer, regardless of whether or not the truck is under dispatch.

Trailer interchange insurance is a must-have if you're involved in a trailer interchange agreement. This essential coverage offers protection for trailers owned by other parties that you're using under a contractual agreement. It covers damages caused by collisions, fire, theft, and vandalism, providing assurance to all parties involved.

Curious whether our commercial truck insurance agency in cityname, state offers additional coverage? The following options can be bound in your insurance policy:

  • Business Interruption Insurance
  • Reefer Breakdown Insurance
  • Occupational Accident with Contract Liability Insurance
  • Rental Reimbursement Insurance
  • Underinsured or Uninsured Motorist Insurance
  • Towing Insurance
  • Electronics Insurance
  • Much More

Three plus 3 Safe Driving Tips to

Lower the Cost of Truck Insurance in Lake Wales, FL

Keeping your drivers safe on the road is crucial not only for their own well-being but also for the safety of other motorists and the financial stability of your business. The Department of Labor has identified the trucking industry as one of the most hazardous sectors in the U.S. In fact, trucking and logistics fleets are known for their high injury and fatality rates. By improving how safely your truckers drive, you can help reduce expenses related to claim payouts, accidents, and insurance premium hikes.

Whether you own a large fleet or you're the owner and operator of a single rig, keep these safe driving tips in mind to help lower your insurance costs.

Implement Preventative Maintenance Plans

Ensuring the safety of your drivers begins with the safety of their vehicles. Trucks and tractor-trailers that do not receive regular maintenance, such as oil and brake pad changes, are more likely to experience breakdowns while on the road. Telematics devices provide real-time insight into engine and odometer data, including fault codes.

This information enables your mechanics to create comprehensive preventative maintenance schedules based on mileage, history of previous breakdowns, days, and more. Additionally, they can receive immediate notifications for critical fault codes. By implementing routine maintenance and proactive repair schedules, you can ensure that your vehicles are in top condition, minimizing the likelihood of breakdowns, which can help reduce the cost of trucker insurance.

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 Trucking Insurance Lake Wales, FL

Practice Defensive Driving

This approach aims to mitigate the risk of fatal crashes and injuries by proactively identifying and responding to potentially dangerous situations and making informed decisions while driving. By adopting defensive driving techniques, drivers can reduce their likelihood of accidents, thereby minimizing the need for expensive repairs, claim payouts, and increased insurance premiums.

Some of the easiest ways for you or your drivers to practice safe driving include:

  • Be Wary of Blind Spots: Operating a reefer or tractor-trailer means driving high off of the ground, which can make visibility limited, especially in blind spots. To check your blind spot, look over your shoulder and out of your windows while changing lanes.
  • Be Ready for Emergencies on the Road: It's important for drivers to be ready for unexpected situations when driving, especially during long trips. They should be equipped to handle emergencies such as poor driving conditions or big rig breakdowns.
  • Use the Three-Second Rule: Truck drivers should try to maintain a three-second gap between their vehicle and the car in front of them. This means that the truck driver should reach a certain point on the road three seconds after the car in front of them has passed that same point.
  • Always Use Right and Left Turn Indicators: It's important for drivers to always use their turn signals when changing lanes or exiting highways, even if they don't see any other cars around. This is not only required by law, but it also reduces the chances of accidents occurring on the road.
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 Commercial Liability Insurance For Truckers Lake Wales, FL

Find Ways to Prevent Distracted Driving

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), distracted driving is the primary reason behind truck driver accidents. Any activity that takes a driver's attention away from the road or the steering wheel is considered distracted driving. Distractions can come in various forms, such as eating while driving or gazing at a billboard outside the window. However, the most frequent form of distracted driving is the use of cellphones, specifically texting while driving.

Assuming you or your driver's rigs are equipped with dual-facing cameras, try reviewing footage of an unsafe driving incident. Coach your drivers on ways to correct their unsafe behaviors or look up ways to do so yourself if you're the one operating the big rig. The bottom line is that when your drivers aren't distracted, they drive safer. And when they drive safer, the cost of 18-wheeler insurance in cityname, state can be reduced.

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 Commercial Truck Insurance Quote Lake Wales, FL

Ensuring the safety of your drivers begins with the safety of their vehicles. Trucks and tractor-trailers that do not receive regular maintenance, such as oil and brake pad changes, are more likely to experience breakdowns while on the road. Telematics devices provide real-time insight into engine and odometer data, including fault codes.

This information enables your mechanics to create comprehensive preventative maintenance schedules based on mileage, history of previous breakdowns, days, and more. Additionally, they can receive immediate notifications for critical fault codes. By implementing routine maintenance and proactive repair schedules, you can ensure that your vehicles are in top condition, minimizing the likelihood of breakdowns, which can help reduce the cost of trucker insurance.

 Low Priced Commercial Truck Insurance Lake Wales, FL phone Call Now

This approach aims to mitigate the risk of fatal crashes and injuries by proactively identifying and responding to potentially dangerous situations and making informed decisions while driving. By adopting defensive driving techniques, drivers can reduce their likelihood of accidents, thereby minimizing the need for expensive repairs, claim payouts, and increased insurance premiums.

Some of the easiest ways for you or your drivers to practice safe driving include:

  • Be Wary of Blind Spots: Operating a reefer or tractor-trailer means driving high off of the ground, which can make visibility limited, especially in blind spots. To check your blind spot, look over your shoulder and out of your windows while changing lanes.
  • Be Ready for Emergencies on the Road: It's important for drivers to be ready for unexpected situations when driving, especially during long trips. They should be equipped to handle emergencies such as poor driving conditions or big rig breakdowns.
  • Use the Three-Second Rule: Truck drivers should try to maintain a three-second gap between their vehicle and the car in front of them. This means that the truck driver should reach a certain point on the road three seconds after the car in front of them has passed that same point.
  • Always Use Right and Left Turn Indicators: It's important for drivers to always use their turn signals when changing lanes or exiting highways, even if they don't see any other cars around. This is not only required by law, but it also reduces the chances of accidents occurring on the road.
Commercial Truck Insurance Lake Wales, FL phone Call Now

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), distracted driving is the primary reason behind truck driver accidents. Any activity that takes a driver's attention away from the road or the steering wheel is considered distracted driving. Distractions can come in various forms, such as eating while driving or gazing at a billboard outside the window. However, the most frequent form of distracted driving is the use of cellphones, specifically texting while driving.

Assuming you or your driver's rigs are equipped with dual-facing cameras, try reviewing footage of an unsafe driving incident. Coach your drivers on ways to correct their unsafe behaviors or look up ways to do so yourself if you're the one operating the big rig. The bottom line is that when your drivers aren't distracted, they drive safer. And when they drive safer, the cost of 18-wheeler insurance in cityname, state can be reduced.

 Truck Insurance Lake Wales, FL phone Call Now

check light FAQs About

Independence Insurance Agency

If you're looking for a commercial trucking insurance agency for your business, chances are you have some questions - and we've got answers. Keep reading to learn more about some of the most commonly asked questions we hear from truckers like you.

Why go with a "jack of all trades" when you can work with specialists who focus exclusively on transportation insurance? We have excellent relationships with major trucking insurance carriers and, as such, can provide the best assistance and reasonable rates.

Typically, companies will look at claims that date back three years or less.

We proudly work with more than 20 carriers to provide our clients with the most advantageous options at competitive prices, catering to the needs of owner-operators and big fleets alike.

Permit filings are typically done by insurance companies on the next business day. Federal (FMCSA) filings are completed online and updated immediately, while some states may take up to three weeks to process.

Independence Insurance Agency: Committed to the Trucking Industry

There's no question about it - you've got to protect your staff, your rig, and your trucking business with insurance. But choosing the right insurance partner isn't always easy. Thankfully, with Independence Insurance Agency by your side, you can rest easy knowing you're covered no matter where the road takes you. If you're in need of a commercial truck insurance agency in Lake Wales, FL that caters to truckers like you, pick up the phone and contact one of our transportation specialists today. That way, you can get back on the road with confidence tomorrow.

 Trucking Insurance Lake Wales, FL

Latest News in Lake Wales, FL

Lake Wales undergoing a huge redevelopment

LAKE WALES, Fla. — Lake Wales is a city in the middle of a redevelopment or, as some city officials say, a renaissance.The city kicked off a major redevelopment project beginning in 2020 and is expected to be completed by 2025 with even more projects planned beyond that.It’s revitalizing several areas, including its downtown by expanding walkways and revitalizing storefronts and pushing to bring in more businesses.What You Need To Know One area that has been economically depressed for...

LAKE WALES, Fla. — Lake Wales is a city in the middle of a redevelopment or, as some city officials say, a renaissance.

The city kicked off a major redevelopment project beginning in 2020 and is expected to be completed by 2025 with even more projects planned beyond that.

It’s revitalizing several areas, including its downtown by expanding walkways and revitalizing storefronts and pushing to bring in more businesses.

What You Need To Know

One area that has been economically depressed for years is the northwest portion of the city.

It has faced years of decline and in some once vibrant areas are now empty storefronts. However, this could soon change. The city is pushing to bring in businesses to bring more life to the area.

Derrick Blue is the co-founder of the Florida Development Corporation and is in charge of Biz-Linc, a business incubator that helps entrepreneurs learn the ropes of business, including planning and budgeting. They’re currently working with more than 30 different entrepreneurs to set up shop in Lake Wales and some are interested in setting up in the northwest part of town. One area that is the focus of Biz-Linc is Lincoln Avenue. It’s where Blue set up a business center.

“You can kinda see everything that used to be...I heard a lot of the great artists, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, they all frequented this strip..a barbershop, grocery stores and they were all locally owned by people who actually live in this community,” Blue said.

One business owner, Michelle Threatt, is hoping to set up shop right on Lincoln Avenue. She grew up a short distance from the strip and says she wants to see it brought back to life.

“The fact of the matter is of being here on Lincoln Avenue where Black businesses...you know the street was full of them and we want that again,” Threatt said.

She has run her own food truck for several years but is looking to possibly expand to a building. Her food truck is called “Topy’s — A Taste of Love.” She named it after her mother and says her business is booming.

She wants to give back to her community that she so dearly loves.

“I’ve now been here 53 years, the same area within three blocks, its really beautiful,” she said. “I can see the vision, some of us aren’t going to see it until it’s into fruition,” Threatt said.

6 Best Things to Do in Lake Wales, FL

Lake Wales is a charming Central Florida city in Polk County with plenty of fun and historic things to do.Founded in 1911, Lake Wales, Florida was established by a group of businessmen who purchased 5,000 acres in the hilly wilderness around Lake Wailes.Located approximately 15 miles southeast of Winter Haven (where the theme park Legoland Florida resides), the city of Lake Wales is known for having some of the be...

Lake Wales is a charming Central Florida city in Polk County with plenty of fun and historic things to do.

Founded in 1911, Lake Wales, Florida was established by a group of businessmen who purchased 5,000 acres in the hilly wilderness around Lake Wailes.

Located approximately 15 miles southeast of Winter Haven (where the theme park Legoland Florida resides), the city of Lake Wales is known for having some of the best attractions in the area, including Bok Tower Gardens and Spook Hill.

These are some of the top places to go in Lake Wales, from beautiful gardens to optical illusions to state parks to airboat tours; check out all the places you can visit on a trip to this great Florida city.

Things to see in Lake Wales

Table of Contents

Bok Tower Gardens

Bok Tower Gardens is one of the most popular places to visit in Lake Wales. The gardens’ founder, Edward Bok, opened in Bok Tower Gardens in 1929.

On the property, there is the iconic, tall Singing Tower, the vast gardens, a Mediterranean-style mansion, and much more.

The gardens have different themes and walking trails where you can see endangered plants and spot local wildlife. Make sure to go to the Reflection Pool, a beautiful place with great views of the Singing Tower.

There is also a café and a gift shop located on the property.

For more information, visit the official Bok Tower Gardens website.

Check out: A Visit to Florida’s Sanctuary: Bok Tower Gardens

Spook Hill

Spook Hill is an optical illusion located in Lake Wales. Known as a gravity hill, visitors will feel like they are driving uphill when they are really going downhill.

The illusion has inspired the mystery of Spook Hill and earned it a designation on the National Register.

For more information, visit the official National Park Service website.

Lake Wales Main Street

Lake Wales Main Street is a shopping area in Downtown Lake Wales. Many local events happen in this area, so check out their calendar before your visit.

Local shops on Lake Wales Main Street include boutiques, jewelers, and a vintage market. If you are looking for something to eat, there is a selection of cafes to choose from, as well as restaurants, a taproom, and a cake studio.

Lake Wales Main Street is open daily, with hours varying by each business.

For more information, visit the official Lake Wales Main Street website.

Lake Wales History Museum

Lake Wales History Museum is a great place to learn about local history. The museum has permanent exhibits about the history and development of the Lake Wales area.

Take a walk through history while viewing artifacts, documents, and photos that show how the city has changed over the years.

If you love architecture from yesteryear, the museum has released an app that provides a self-guided walking tour of historic buildings in the downtown area.

For more information, visit the official Lake Wales History website.

Lake Kissimmee State Park

Lake Kissimmee State Park is a Florida state park. The park has many wildlife to spot, including sandhill cranes, bald eagles, and white-tailed deer. Hiking, canoeing, horseback riding, and birding are all popular activities to do in the park.

There are various camping options onsite, with campgrounds for tent camping, spaces to park RVs, and even glamping! Glamping is a luxurious camping experience, and offered at Lake Kissimmee State Park through Luxury Pioneer Tents, which include beds, electricity, and heat and cooling units.

For more information, visit the official Florida State Parks website.

Alligator Cove Airboat Nature Tours

Alligator Cove Airboat Nature Tours is an airboat tours company based in Lake Wales. The company offers airboat adventure experiences that take guests through the marshlands of the Kissimmee River Basin.

Experience the Headwaters of the Everglades with this wild Florida activity. Nature tours, alligator tours, and birding tours are available to reserve.

For more information, visit the official Alligator Cove Airboat Nature Tours website.

If you enjoyed this article about things to do in Lake Wales and are looking for a few other recommendations, check out these suggestions:

Lake Wales Continues to Draw National Attention for Envisioned Planning

Courtesy Public SquareLake Wales has once again been featured in a major publication citing the pioneering planning work contained in Lake Wales Envisioned. That document, funded by the City of Lake Wales, is a comprehensive road map to a future that promises less impact from growth and a more habitable city.An article that ...

Courtesy Public Square

Lake Wales has once again been featured in a major publication citing the pioneering planning work contained in Lake Wales Envisioned. That document, funded by the City of Lake Wales, is a comprehensive road map to a future that promises less impact from growth and a more habitable city.

An article that in the online magazine Public Square says that "Lake Wales, Florida, has adopted a plan that puts active mobility at the heart of day-to-day life."

Entitled "Planning a City that Gets People Moving" the story by magazine editor Robert Steuteville trumpets the city's adoption of the Lake Wales Envisioned plan created by the award-winning planning team of Dover, Kohl & Partners, citing the work of Wade Walker, a transportation engineer with Kittelson & Associates who led the conceptual designs for the plan's "Complete Streets."

The story, which can be read in its entirety here, also credits the work of John Simmerman, founder of Active Towns, who is quoted as saying that "physical activity is a natural part of the daily living for humans."

Courtesy Lake Wales Envisioned

The Envisioned plan is credited for "creating a built environment that promotes mobility through walking, cycling, e-biking, or other means of transportation beside automobiles. The plan accomplished that "through proximity-to a park, multi-use pathway, protective bike lane, or walkable destination," the story tells readers. It cites the creation of a "Big Green Network" as one way to assure citizens remain connected with nature and the outdoor activities that help keep them healthy.

The Envisioned plan produced a list of 20 specific steps that must be taken by the city commission to employ the tools and avoid the worst impacts of unavoidable development which is already promising more than 15,000 new dwelling units within city limits.

"Public Square: A CNU Journal" is described as a national publication of the Center for the New Urbanism "dedicated to illuminating and cultivating best practices."

Friedlander Ranch May Become Part of Envisioned Plan's "Big Green Network"

News graphic imageThe realization of a "Big Green Network" of environmental lands that will forever form limits to the potential urbanization of the Lake Wales area drew a step closer this week.Lifelong Lake Wales resident and member of a pioneer family, Edwin Friedlander has offered his 749-acre ranch property for acquisition throug...

News graphic image

The realization of a "Big Green Network" of environmental lands that will forever form limits to the potential urbanization of the Lake Wales area drew a step closer this week.

Lifelong Lake Wales resident and member of a pioneer family, Edwin Friedlander has offered his 749-acre ranch property for acquisition through the Polk Forever program, approved by voters in 2022.

The property was assessed by a "technical advisory team" before being approved by the Conservation Lands Selection Advisory Committee (CLASAC).

The Friedlander parcel, located southeast of Lake Wales and north of Babson Park, lies entirely within the utility service area established by the City of Lake Wales through interlocal agreement with Polk County. It defines the area which could potentially be annexed and served by city utilities.

The tract ranked second among six properties nominated by their owners for consideration. The property "is in really good shape," according to Gaye Sharpe, who leads the county's program. "It has very few invasives, and already provides a lot of good habitat for wildlife movement."

According to Sharpe the land may be subject to a sale of development rights only or become county property and provide recreational opportunities for area residents, as well as wildlife habitat. Protection would allow it to serve as an aquifer-recharge area helping to provide water for generations to come.

"We're at the very beginning of the process" to acquire the property, she said, and no determination as to how to protect it has been made. "It may require that we appraise it both ways" for fee-simple of development rights purchase, she said. "That really is their {the Friedlander's} decision," she added.

The vision of a Big Green Network is one of the major elements of the Lake Wales Envisioned project to assure that Lake Wales remains a livable area in the face of enormous development pressure. It calls for the creation of two major swathes of protected wildlife habitat east and west of the city.

Victor Dover of Dover, Kohl & Partners, who led the multi-firm Envisioned plan development, called the nomination "a big step forward." He also cautioned that "there are more votes ahead" before any deal can be finalized.

The CLASAC conservation land program renews a previous program approved by voters in 1994, which successfully protected numerous parcels across the county in partnership with multiple state and federal agencies. They include the Crooked Lake Prairie and Sumica tracts near Lake Wales, both popular for outdoor recreation.

Local resident Blair Updike often paints images of Florida's natural scenes and was deeply involved in the successful effort to renew the CLASAC program in 2022. She was excited to learn of the property's nomination and saluted the Friedlander family for bringing it forward.

"It's a beautiful property," Updike said, adding that "It's great to see {the new program} going into action so quickly" and "the property owners stepping forward."

The Friedlander tract, formerly used as a cattle pasture, lies adjacent to the Nature Conservancy's Tiger Creek Preserve, which is a riverine habitat along the creek and a large swath of restored pine flatwoods. That native land form is maintained by regular controlled burns of undergrowth. If the property is purchased outright it could be a candidate for restoration to a similar use, but Sharpe cautioned that restoration would be a long-term process as grants and funding become available.

Roberto Gonzalez/Nature Conservancy

The Envisioned effort is an effort to establish higher development and limits on growth to assure that natural areas, water resources, and wildlife corridors remain intact as the city inevitably grows. The development of the plan involved months of intense public input through a series of workshops, charrettes, meetings, and open studio efforts, as well as webinars and presentations from a team of experts in varying professions.

The results include a map depicting two broad greenways that could serve as wildlife corridors to the east and west of the city. Connecting to existing environmental lands, as the Friedlander tract does, along with the close-in location to the city makes the property of major significance in that effort. The Envisioned plan also depicts a network of trails for walkers and bicyclists that would link to environmental lands and connect to regional trails.

Lake Wales Country Club, Oakwood GC Site of Large New Development Proposal

Managing EditorA large infill development would fill vacant lands around two existing golf courses on the east side of Lake Wales, combining them into a single hybrid course and adding up to 1424 new homes, townhomes, cottages and apartments if the plans are accepted by the City of Lake Wales.A large-scale redevelopment proposal that includes both Lake Wales Country Club and the adjacent Oakwood golf course community is raising passion...

Managing Editor

A large infill development would fill vacant lands around two existing golf courses on the east side of Lake Wales, combining them into a single hybrid course and adding up to 1424 new homes, townhomes, cottages and apartments if the plans are accepted by the City of Lake Wales.

A large-scale redevelopment proposal that includes both Lake Wales Country Club and the adjacent Oakwood golf course community is raising passions among residents, some of whom have differing responses to the concept, which merges the two golf courses into a single 18-hole course.

A new hotel would accompany hundreds of townhomes, apartments, and single-family homes, a total of 1,424 dwelling units spread across 522 acres. Nearly 152 acres would remain as open space under the draft proposal.

That proposed site design has been refined after several meetings with City of Lake Wales planners. The project requires the properties to be annexed into the city to access city utility services. Many of the country club residents depend upon a small “package” sewage treatment plant.

Property principal owner Frank Gandhi previously brought an annexation proposal to planners, “but we considered it incomplete,” senior planner Jasmine Khammany said. “We told him we can’t consider annexation until they can resolve the enclave issues out there.”

Those issues were created by a prior annexation several years ago. Most of the fairways and common areas in Oakwood are already in the city and receive city water. The existing residential streets at Oakwood remain in the county. The new plan would create additional enclaves on the country club side.

Florida Statutes prohibit “voluntary annexation when such annexation results in the creation of enclaves.” State policy is to eliminate enclaves and allows cities “to expedite the annexation of enclaves of 110 acres or less” through an interlocal agreement with the county.

LakeWalesNews.net attempted to learn whether the city would consider such an annexation to solve the problem but had received no response from city officials as this story went to publication.

Gandhi brought a representative of the Orlando engineering firm of Dave Schmitt Engineering, Inc. to the most recent meeting, “and now it looks like he’s serious,” Khammany told LakeWalesNews.net.

The newest iteration of the complex plan presented to the city calls for new commercial development along the Highway 60 frontage east of the LWCC entrance and a 75-room hotel located just west of the existing clubhouse on an interior parcel.

New streets would link to two communities, requiring the removal of some of the holes of the historic Donald Ross/Seth Rayner layout, which was developed 100 years ago by the City of Lake Wales, and later became a private club.

The Oakwood course, designed by Karl Litten, was opened in 1993. It has been closed in recent years, and the LWCC course is underutilized, according to residents. The inclusion of the hotel adjacent to the clubhouse is hoped to put the new layout on the map as a golfing destination, according to a representative of the owner.

Residents of the site offered differing opinions and perspectives. Ian Williamson told LakeWalesNews.net that the current situation is unsustainable.

“There’s a need for investment, not just in maintenance but capital investment in the infrastructure,” Williamson said, citing the tennis courts, clubhouse roof, and other areas as being in need. “At least they’re investing in the golf course now,” he added, “I just don’t want to live in a construction area.”.

Resident Mike Spotswood echoed some of those observations, saying that the club is “having a hard time surviving” and that change is needed. He was encouraged by the proposed hotel, but taken somewhat aback by the scale of the development.

“If they bring enough energy into this place it could shine,” Spotswood said, but “if he just sells those parcels off the golf course could go away.”

Gandhi, a resident of New Jersey, is also the owner of several franchise restaurant outlets. LakeWalesNews.net attempted to contact him for comment on this story but has received no response. An on-site manager said that he had no knowledge of the plans.

The present Lake Wales Country Club would see a new hotel added next to the present clubhouse. Apartments would be constructed on the driving range.

The draft site plan offered to the city includes lands belonging to at least two adjacent property owners and includes a street connection to Masterpiece Road/Burns Avenue from the north end of the development. Two new entrances are included at Capps Road, east of the site.

The latest version of the site includes 114 “estate” homes on 80-foot-wide lots, as well as 430 “garden” homes on 60’ lots. Another 548 “bungalow” homes would be constructed on 40’ lots. Most of the new homes, along with 212 townhome and “live/work” units would be built on lands to the north of LWCC and adjacent to Oakwood. The smaller lots would be provided with an alley for rear-access garages to improve the street appearance.

Four 30-unit multi-family buildings would occupy the present driving range at LWCC.

The project sets aside almost five acres of wetlands and buffers, along with 77 acres of stormwater retention and 73 acres of upland open space, mostly along roads and in six pocket parks. Three roundabouts are included to handle internal traffic.

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