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West Orange Times & Observer Wednesday, Jun. 3, 2020 4 months ago

Winter Garden leaders consider Beard Road storage facility

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Ordinances that could bring 114,000 square feet of self-storage space to Winter Garden cleared their first hurdles May 28.
by: Danielle Hendrix Associate Editor

More than 100,000 square feet of personal self-storage space could be coming to Beard Road in Winter Garden.

The associated ordinances’ first readings were on the agenda when Winter Garden commissioners met Thursday, May 28.

The subject properties comprise about 6.01 acres of land at 1577 and 894 Beard Road. They face Florida’s Turnpike to the north and are located west of Beulah Road. The 3.82 acres at 1577 Beard Road has a two-story wood frame house built in 1941, while the 2.18-acre parcel at 894 Beard Road is undeveloped. 

The applicant is requesting to change the future land-use designation from low-density residential to commercial and to rezone the property from Residential District to Planned Commercial Development. 

This would allow the development of 114,641 square feet of personal self-storage. The project would consist of a 45-foot-tall, three-story main building and five single-story storage structures surrounding an internal vehicle-storage area with canopies. The project also includes enhanced landscaping, sidewalks and a stormwater pond. The five single-story buildings will act as a buffer, Community Development Director Steve Pash said, and there would be one vehicular access point off of Beard Road.

“Storage probably has the least amount of traffic of any project,” said City Manager Mike Bollhoefer. “That’s why when we were looking at this property and we talked … about what would fit there, considering it’s facing the turnpike and has very few trips, it would put the least amount of burden on the existing infrastructure.”

Winter Garden resident Ron Mueller told the commission he attended the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting where the project was discussed. He told them there was considerable debate surrounding it, although it eventually was approved unanimously. 

“It’s not consistent with the surrounding land use — around there is a few scattered homes fairly far apart,” Mueller said. “There really aren’t any other viable commercial businesses there, so obviously the residents were concerned. I could see that concern, and it made good sense as to what they were saying. The second part of that was — and somebody brought this up, and I tended to agree — that while we can exercise great control, we don’t really have any businesses in that area, and now we’re essentially setting precedent or opening the door for businesses there, even if we’re putting this piece of property out there as a storage use. 

“From a city perspective and looking at this as a long-term goal, I don’t think this is a direction we want to go, and it just really doesn’t set well with that whole area,” he said. “From a more observational view there, I don’t really know what we as a city get out of having storage units. They’re not pretty, they don’t create a lot of revenue, they don’t bring in a lot of new people, there’s not really a benefit for them.”

Bollhoefer said the reason the city supported the project was because although the surrounding area is residential, staff didn’t believe the property would bring in “high-end residential” because of the proximity to the turnpike.

“I would not build a high-end residential right across from a turnpike with noise,” Bollhoefer said. “Any residential there would be on the lower end. That’s why — from the staff’s perspective — we did not believe residential would be the highest and best use. The storage facility, there’s actually people that use it, and (those who) need it are all in the community with all their supplies. … There’s a great demand for the storage, which is why they want to build it. 

“It faces the turnpike, it’s out of the way, and it’s a great distance from most of the houses,” he said. “It’s probably the ideal — if I had to pick a place in Winter Garden to pick a storage unit, this is probably one of the first pieces of property I would pick.”

The commission approved the first reading of both ordinances, with a second reading and public hearing to follow at the June 11 City Commission meeting.

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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