July 07, 2017

Babcock Ranch: resilient by design

By: Vicki Parsons - IT

2017-06-28 / Real Estate News

Each June as the hurricane season gets underway Floridians are reminded that the dream of living close to the coast comes with a certain amount of risk. When storms take aim at southwest Florida and evacuation orders are issued, residents of Babcock Ranch will find themselves at a distinct advantage.

“Storm safety and resiliency has factored into every element of the design and engineering of our new town,” said Syd Kitson, Chairman and CEO of Kitson & Partners. “We’ve taken great care to incorporate the latest technologies to keep people truly safe in a storm and allow a quick rebound after a storm passes.”

Like everything else in real estate, location is key. While located within easy reach of coastal amenities, Babcock Ranch is on some of the highest ground in the area with elevations as high as 30 feet above sea level – a virtual mountain in Florida. It would take a category 5 hurricane to push the storm surge up to the southernmost edge of town.

Preparation, mitigation and building codes are the key ingredients of a resilient community. Strong building codes combined with elevated inland location will allow Babcock residents to shelter in their own homes during storms up to a Category 3 hurricane.

According to Kitson, the real measure of resiliency is the speed of recovery – how quickly life gets back to normal after the storm passes. At Babcock Ranch underground conduit of power and fiber-optic cable systems combine with smart-grid technology to minimize service disruptions. But the centerpiece of the town’s storm resiliency plan is a comprehensive storm-water management system.

“The master plan was designed by taking advantage of the natural systems and drainage flow ways that have been weathering storms for years,” explained John Broderick, Senior Vice President of Land Development. “We worked with several agencies on different water models that took into account the massive amount of water that can flow onto the property, how to retain it longer, and then get it back off. It’s not just about being more resilient here, but being good neighbors. We are making regional drainage improvements here to help alleviate some of the historic flooding issues for other property owners along state road 31.”

Even the landscaping requirements at Babcock Ranch were developed with storms in mind.

“When properly designed and incorporated into the landscape, native plants reduce storm runoff and flooding, improve surface water quality, require less maintenance, irrigation, fertilization and pesticides, and help conserve energy by providing natural shade and cooling,” Broderick said. “They are also best equipped to stand up to the natural conditions of the area which include not only storms – but fire.”