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West Orange Times & Observer Wednesday, May 27, 2015 5 years ago

County OKs plan for big-box store in Horizon West

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by: Zak Kerr Staff Writer/Reporter

HORIZON WEST — Orange County commissioners approved a preliminary subdivision plan in Horizon West that some residents believe will lead to a Walmart in the area.

At the Board of County Commissioners’ May 5 meeting, two development plans for the Horizon West area unanimously passed the BCC and are slated for commencement. Both pertain to the area near the New Independence Parkway exit of State Road 429 around the Hamlin neighborhood.

One is a proposal to use 66.35 acres for a subdivision plan on the south side of New Independence Parkway, east of State Road 429, said John Smogor, Orange County planning administrator. That development team is proposing to build a three-lot commercial subdivision on that lot.

The other is a plan to use 64.11 acres across New Independence Parkway from the former proposal — that is, on the north side of New Independence Parkway — to construct four commercial lots and move forward with a development plan for a 193,185-square-foot big-box store and a 1,379-square-foot convenience store with associated fuel stations, Smogor said.

Waivers for that latter project include parking and bike rack waivers, Smogor said.

With a big-box store of that size, Horizon West residents believe a Walmart is in the works for this commercial area, and some are not pleased about it.

“There is a major concern growing in the neighborhood that essentially somebody has been sent from Walmart and has already purchased a house in the Hamlin community, and that the RFP has been made out for Walmart and whatnot for the construction,” Horizon West resident Amelia Otlowski said. “On the site, there’s major concerns about Walmart building so close to the Independence and Hamlin communities. Just considering that Walmart — just the parking lots have crime statistics, and also there is a strong correlation between that and lowering and depreciation of house values.”

Although she did not know whether Walmart has been chosen to be in that commercial plan yet, she said neighbors had echoed her major concerns about the possibility of a developing Walmart in the area, which developer  Boyd Development Corporation markets as a “premier waterfront community in Central Florida combining rural elegance with lakeside living.”

District 1 Commissioner Scott Boyd responded that a large big-box development would arrive in the area off State Road 429, but he wanted the community to understand there has been a lot of active pursuit of discussion and planning on roadway connections in that area.

“I know that a lot of you that live in Independence have had concerns about traffic coming down (New) Independence Parkway and making its way down to Tiny (Road),” Boyd said. “And with this road’s network, what that will be able to do is eliminate a lot of that concern for most of you out there.”

Jim Willard, attorney for the owner and applicant of the development, said plans for the extension of Hamlin Groves Trail to the north would extend beyond New Independence Parkway north and east to tie into Tiny Road.

“Plans are proceeding to initiate construction on the developers’ portion immediately north of New Independence Parkway, and most of the plans, including the road network, have been approved,” Willard said. 

Contact Zak Kerr at [email protected].

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