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West Orange Times & Observer Thursday, Oct. 17, 2019 1 month ago

Commission postpones senior living proposal

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Winter Garden city commissioners will meet with the developer and neighbors regarding the proposed project.
by: Danielle Hendrix Associate Editor

A proposal for a senior-living facility off Stoneybrook West Parkway has some neighbors at odds with the project applicants.

During the Winter Garden commission meeting Thursday, Oct. 10, the applicant delivered to the commission a presentation on the project, called Stoneybrook Senior Living. The presentation was part of the first reading and public hearing of five ordinances related to the project.

The property in question consists of approximately 10.75 acres located at 12920 and 12921 Reaves Road, at the northwest and northeast corners of Reaves Road and Stoneybrook West Parkway.

The requests include annexation into the city of Winter Garden; amending the future land-use map designation from Orange County Rural to City Low Density Residential; and rezoning the property from Orange County A-1 (Agricultural) and R-CE-2 (Rural Residential) to City PUD (Planned Unit Development).

Walt Chancey, senior management partner of Chancey Design, has been working on the Stoneybrook Senior Living project. He’s been designing senior-living facilities for more than 25 years and said his firm specializes in senior-living projects of this nature.

“We are proposing 101 independent-living units and 65 assisted-living units,” Chancey said. “Of the 65, a small portion would be memory care. The proposed community offers a continuum of care for Winter Garden seniors — from the more independent resident who can live on their own … to the fully licensed assisted-living environment, including care for those stricken with dementia such as Alzheimer’s.

“We look to care for our seniors throughout this continuum of care,” he said. “It’s full-service, it’s not an apartment building, 55-plus or active adult. … These facilities are quiet uses. They work well, and they can be woven into the neighborhoods. They have low impact on their surroundings. The market study demonstrates that … there is a growing market for quality senior care in the Winter Garden community.”

Site plans include a three-story independent-living building and two stories for the assisted-living building. There would be a 145-foot buffer of trees to the north of the property, where it abuts a neighborhood.

The project also includes common space and recreation areas with amenities such as a pool and garden. There would be 155 total parking spaces and two drop-off areas. Additionally, approximately 1.80 acres on the east side of the parcel will feature the property’s stormwater management pond.

Community Development Director Steve Pash told commissioners that staff originally recommended approval following a community meeting in April because at the time it appeared most concerns had been met and addressed by the applicant. However, he said, he and City Manager Mike Bollhoefer met with residents in August to discuss the project. During that time, they decided that the current proposal might not be the best use for the property.

On Oct. 7, staff presented the proposal with the recommendation of denial to the planning board, which overturned the recommendation and approved it.

“Staff is not in opposition to annexing these properties; we oppose annexing them with this density and denying that,” Pash said. “If the commission so chooses to go with the planning board, we suggest you limit this to two stories maximum.”

One of the project applicants, Allan Bradley, said this project is something that creates an opportunity for the elderly to stay and age in their community. 

“Staff is not in opposition to annexing these properties; we oppose annexing them with this density and denying that. If the commission so chooses to go with the planning board, we suggest you limit this to two stories maximum.”— Steve Pash, Winter Garden

“It’s a place for residents to live and age and be social, to have meals and have care and rely less on ambulances and 911 calls, to protect them, to hopefully prolong their life and allow them to live in a really graceful way that’s social and fun,” Bradley said. “We’ve been trying to work toward harmony and input we can adapt to, and maybe we can (make) changes.”

Rick McDowell, a resident on the neighboring Dallington Terrace, said he and his neighbors are not against senior-living developments. Rather, he said, they are concerned about the placement. Fellow neighbors added they hadn’t heard anything about the project until July.

“Really as much as anything, I don’t want to be standing at my swimming pool looking out at a senior-living home,” he said. “Again, it sounds like I’m the bad guy … I’m just not in favor of that. When I moved in it was before Fowler Groves opened, but I clearly knew it was a big commercial development. We knew that was going to be a part of it, we knew what we were going to face. I’ve spoken since July 8 with Mr. Bradley and expressed to him the fact that we really weren’t in favor of (this) and no offense to him and certainly not to senior living, but that’s kind of where we are.”

“The developer keeps calling this a low-density residential development, but let’s be clear here, this is a commercial development, that much is evident by their economic presentation,” added neighbor Julie Stiles.

Darryl Williams, a resident living off of Reaves Road, said he isn’t opposed to the proposed use but would like to see the developer decrease the size of it.

“There’s got to be some reasonable size to it other than 170,000 square feet,” Williams said. “It’s too large, it’s not consistent, it should be readdressed and brought down to appropriate size.”

At the end of the presentation, the commission decided to postpone the proposal until a time uncertain and schedule a community meeting with the developer and neighbors as soon as possible to see if concessions could be made.

Bollhoefer said staff has told the developer from day one that the primary thing they need for this project is obtain community support. He added that it would be best for staff to meet both with the developer and the residents to see if there is a compromise possible.

“The reason we have community meetings is so we can listen to residents,” he said. “When all is said and done, from our staff’s perspective we work for the residents of the city of Winter Garden and the city and our job is to recommend to do what’s best for the city.”

Danielle Hendrix is the Associate Editor for the West Orange Times & Observer and the Windermere Observer. She is a 2015 graduate of the University of Central Florida, from which she earned a bachelor's degree in journalism with a minor in world comparative studies. ...

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