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Windermere Observer Wednesday, Jul. 24, 2019 1 month ago

County approves subdivision expansion

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The new expansion is located in Village H in Horizon West, near the brand-new Water Spring Elementary School.
by: Hannah Swayze News Editor

Orange County commissioners approved a preliminary subdivision plan for phase three of Storey Grove — a section of the Springhill Planned Development in Horizon West — at their meeting on Tuesday, July 16. 

The subdivision, located in Village H, will span 34.86 acres and include 65 single-family residences south of Water Spring Boulevard and west of Avalon Road. This is in addition to the recent phase of Storey Grove that also was created for 65 separate units. 

District 1 Commissioner Betsy VanderLey said this is a very early step in the overall process. 

“A PSP basically says, ‘This is where the roads are going to be, this is how we’re going to connect with the surrounding infrastructure, the lots are going to lay out like this,’” VanderLey said.

Next, the applicant, Waldrop Engineering, will have to return for building permits and more before the project is completely finished. 

“These are pretty straightforward,” VanderLey said. “Because of the growth in Horizon West, this is really similar to … a number of other projects that have come through in Horizon West over the last year so it’s not an unusual ask. There was nothing particularly controversial about it or anything. It’s pretty straightforward. … Just shy of 50% of all residential building permits in unincorporated Orange County were pulled in this area so, clearly, if you’re a builder this is a really great area to be in.”

This expansion to the subdivision is just one of many projects popping up in the fast-growing Horizon West area. 

The area also is scheduled to be the location for 14 new schools — 10 elementary schools, two middle schools and two high schools — in the next five years. 

Opening this fall — merely streets away from the subdivision — is Water Spring Elementary School with a student capacity of 837 students. It’s one of the three Orange County public schools opening for the 2019-20 school year in Horizon West. 

With the significant growth comes the area’s fair share of growing pains. 

VanderLey said Orange County uses a few strategies in the area to provide sufficient infrastructure to the previously undeveloped area. 

In Horizon West, the county utilizes tools not available in other parts of the county, including the ability to require developers to contribute to adequate public facilities. They can require developers to improve roads or set aside land for parks and schools. 

“With those tools, it gives us a lot of leverage to tell the developer, ‘OK, if you want to develop, then you have to contribute your proportionate share of the cost it would be to set aside that land or improve that road,’” VanderLey said. “We do that routinely in Horizon West, and very often we actually turn back to the developer who tends to already have equipment and people on the ground and ask them to improve the roads for impact-fee credits.”

This particular phase of the subdivision will receive impact-fee credits for road construction.

Hannah Swayze is the News Editor at the West Orange Times & Observer and Windermere Observer. She is former staff writer of the Johnson City Press in Johnson City, Tennessee. She is a graduate of East Tennessee State University where she earned a bachelor's degree in media...

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