NORTH PORT (FOX 13) - Empty fields scattered with cows stretch out for acres along U.S 41, from Venice into North Port.
The picturesque scenery caught the eye of the President of West Villages Paul Erhardt. He saw a chance to build what he calls a fairly affordable, yet modern community.
"The area was always an attractive area, with its natural beauty," Erhardt said. "The development we are doing is not just growth for growth's sake. It’s very high quality. A great deal of thought went into the design.
The growth, however, is significant; 30,000 new homes will soon be completed in the area.
Construction of new homes has already started. A marketplace and retail center will soon take shape.
The Atlanta Braves spring training stadium is right down the road.
"We are building roads right now, we are improving, we are putting in lights and intersection improvements on U.S 41," Erhardt explained.
As growth continues, so does the need for emergency personnel. The city of North Port is already working to fill those spots.
"The firefighters we are taking on now give us the ability for the expansion," said Chief Scott Titus.
North Port Fire Rescue Chief Scott Titus said a $2.6 million federal grant for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) allowed the city to hire 21 new firefighters.
"It helps absorb the costs of those firefighters over a three year period," he said.
The new hires are undergoing training. By spring they will be serving West Villages.
It's a big expansion for both residents and fire rescue in a city that's tripled it's population since 2008 with new residents arriving every day.
"It gives up the opportunity to bring on new people with senior personnel so they begin to learn our equipment, our stations, our area they learn each others strengths and weaknesses," said Chief Titus.