Following the 5-2 passage Tuesday night of a rezoning that will pave the way for a new high density residential development in the Deep River area, Sanford Mayor Chet Mann responded to vocal opponents of the measure, arguing that projected growth demands that the city increase its housing stock and pushing back on claims that the council had acted improperly in approving the rezoning.

“Our real estate association confirmed a total of 133 homes listed for sale in Lee County,” Mann said, citing the addition of roughly 1500 jobs in the area in recent years. “Lee County has over 19,000 renters, with over 5,000 who could afford to be homeowners. What we have is a shortage of quality housing.”

At issue is the proposed Galvin’s Ridge subdivision, which now that the rezoning has passed will add nearly 1,000 homes on about 400 acres of land on Colon Road near the U.S. 1 interchange. Opponents in the area have raised a series of objections (subscription required), particularly over that level of density, what impact it would have on infrastructure, and even suggesting impropriety on the council’s part.

Mann responded to those allegations by saying they detract from any legitimate issues those in the Deep River area might have.

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“We’ve received lots of letters and mail, emails and phone calls from concerned citizens. I’ve received many that were very positive, very rational,” he said. “I’ve also received a lot that were threatening, hateful and full of allegations of impropriety on our part and on myself in person. That doesn’t help the credibility of the argument and it’s unfortunate for those that are making the rational concerns.”

Mann also asked people to weigh the benefits of adding a large number of new homes to the community, particularly with regards to commercial development.

“The question I receive most, on a regular basis, every other day is ‘when are we gonna get this? When is Sanford gonna get that? When will we get a Target?'” he said. “The answer is when we have more rooftops. The national retailers look at number of rooftops and per capita income to determine if your city is a candidate for them. Nothing else really matters to these national retailers.”

Mann’s entire message lasted nearly 10 minutes and touched on a number of other topics, including the process by which the property’s owners changed their intentions from industrial development to residential, why the council declined to annex land off Valley Road for a similar proposal earlier in the year, their visits to other developments constructed by the builder of Galvin’s Ridge, and how area leaders plan to address increased infrastructure burdens. View the entire message here, beginning at the 1:48:05 mark.