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West Orange Times & Observer Thursday, Mar. 14, 2019 5 days ago

Proposed Oakland complex worries nearby homeowners

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A proposed apartment complex has caused fears of property devaluation and more traffic congestion from surrounding homeowners. 
by: Gabby Baquero News Editor

The owner of a five-bedroom Oakland mansion located on a 13-acre property formerly owned by Osama Bin Laden’s brother — Khalil Bin Laden — is attempting to sell 11 of those acres to a developer that seeks to build an apartment complex.

The owners, Gary M. and Dana D. English, annexed the property into the town of Oakland in August. The developer, LIV Development Inc., submitted an application detailing its proposed plans to construct 242 luxury apartment units on the vacant land.

To develop the property, the applicant will need to change the future land-use designation from Orange County Rural (one dwelling unit per 10 acres) to Mixed Use Activity Center and rezone the property to Planned Unit Development. The Comprehensive Plan amendment, discussed by the town’s Planning and Zoning Board Feb. 19, is being recommended for approval. The zoning code amendment will be discussed by the P&Z board next week. 

But homeowners in the Deer Island community located in unincorporated Orange County have expressed strong objections to the development. The residents cite concerns about traffic, property values and incompatibility, but fear their objections might carry less weight because they aren’t Oakland residents.

“All of the neighboring properties are either not in the same county, or we’re not annexed into the (town of Oakland),” said Deer Island HOA President Randy Anderson. “You have to go across (State Road) 50, and that’s the Oakland area. But on three sides, it’s not. So this is on the outskirts of the town, but I think they should listen to the neighbors. They took this property, and now they’re shoving this down our throats, and it’s just not fair.”

To the west, the property abuts Lake County, to the south is Johns Lake, to the east is unincorporated Orange County, and to the north across S.R. 50 is the Killarney Station for the West Orange Trail and the Oakland Trails community.

Residents from the Oakland Trails community also worry about the development.

“A big issue for us, including me, is the traffic issue, as well,” Oakland Trails resident Sam Stoppler said. “The traffic situation is bad as is, at the moment. It’s clogged every single day, and they’re going to be increasing the traffic with hundreds of extra people living in these apartments. I know that not every single individual has a car, but the current infrastructure just can’t take that.”

According to a Traffic Impact Analysis Study conducted for the project, the roadway segment of S.R. 50 west of Florida’s Turnpike currently operates at a deficient level of service and is prone to traffic congestion during the morning and evening rush hour.

A summarized transcript of the Feb. 19 P&Z meeting notes the town agreed with the traffic study’s findings. According to the study, when trips associated with the development are added to State Road 50, there is “an increase in traffic volume overcapacity of 2% or less,” the transcript states.

But the developer has agreed to include traffic improvements to the site, including turn lanes, in its proposal.

“It is a constrained road with not a whole lot of right-of-way, but they (the developers) are proposing to build some improvements to help with the traffic flow,” Oakland Town Manager Steve Koontz said. “It’s a very busy road, but the number of cars that would be generated by the apartment complex would constitute a very small percentage of what’s already out there.”

Oakland P&Z will discuss the project March 19 before issuing a recommendation. The Town Commission is scheduled to discuss the proposal April 23.

Gabby is the news editor for the West Orange Times and Windermere Observer newspapers. Have a story tip? Contact her at (352) 448-5856 or at [email protected]....

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