Orange County Commissioners approve WOHS relief school at Beck Property

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  • | 8:49 p.m. April 7, 2015
Class Notes 10.01.15
Class Notes 10.01.15
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ORANGE COUNTY — After a public hearing featuring dozens of speakers from West Orange lasted around four hours the afternoon of April 7, Orange County Commissioners voted 6-1 to approve a modification of Option B, one of the Orange County School Board proposals for a settlement regarding the construction of a relief school for West Orange High School at the Beck Property of the West Windermere Rural Settlement.

This 65-acre property is along County Road 535 (Winter Garden-Vineland Road) at the northeast corner of an intersection that includes 535 to the north and east, Summerport Village Parkway to the west and Ficquette Hancock Road to the south.

Alterations to Option B, the plan with an offsite stadium for the relief school’s athletics and a student capacity of 2,776, included the 8-foot precast concrete wall with columns along the north and east property lines that was part of Option A and a proposal by District 1 Commissioner Scott Boyd, who made the motion to move forward with Option B as modified.

Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs also altered language regarding future site purchases by Orange County Public Schools. This alteration would offer OCPS the ability to purchase an option on a future site if it lacks zoning.

This vote is the first of several steps in what might be the home stretch for this relief school saga that some residents at the hearing said they had been waiting as long as 14 years for. That wait is guaranteed to extend to at least 16 years even if this plan receives final approval in four weeks, because the site would not be ready until at least 2017.

The approved modification to Option B now goes to the Orange County School Board for review at its April 14 meeting. Passing a vote there would send the proposal to the Board of Zoning Adjustment for another public hearing April 28, after which a public hearing for land use would occur May 5 with a possible final vote for the Board of County Commissioners.

If the school board does not approve this settlement agreement or the Board of County Commissioners does not approve the school board’s application for this special exception at a possible May 5 final public hearing, litigation would resume, according to county staff.


Conditions in this framework for an agreement on how to proceed with construction of a relief high school at the Beck Property, in addition to those mentioned above, are as follows:

Crews would install a 6-foot decorative aluminum fence along County Road 535 and a black vinyl chain-link fence around the storm water retention area. Parking lot lights would be the style of the Publix lot in the Cornerstone at Summerport at the southwest corner of the intersection at a maximum height of 30 feet, with all parking and field lights complying with exterior lighting ordinances. The relief school would have subdued bells. Canopy buffer trees would be planted along both sides of the retention area to maximize buffering for neighboring properties, and building facades would have an elevation-compliant architectural style like SunRidge Middle School.

OCPS would consent to the Board of County Commissioners amending Orange County’s school siting ordinance to prohibit building future public high schools in rural settlements, although Jacobs clarified that the commissioners were not considering such amendments for the immediate future. 

The offsite stadium would be at the Orange County Dorman Property about one mile south on Ficquette Road. Residential-style lighting would be installed around the perimeter of the relief school practice field, turn off automatically at 8 p.m. and not exceed 30 feet in height.

At the Dorman Property, a future Orange County public park site, Orange County would build a standard public high school stadium at a site to be determined in consultation with OCPS, which would provide minimum standards for the stadium. The stadium would open by July 31, 2018, with Orange County retaining title to the whole property.

Basic stadium components would include: an FHSAA regulation-size football field with field-goal posts, stadium lights, aluminum bleachers for up to 1,500 spectators, a scoreboard, a broadcast booth, FHSAA regulation track and field facilities, locker rooms, restrooms and a concession stand.

OCPS officials estimate costs of such a stadium would not exceed $5 million, with OCPS and Orange County paying half each. Orange County would bear added costs: parking lots, storm water maintenance facilities, area infrastructure and other park facilities. Orange County would name the public park but not object to appropriate signs identifying it as the home of the relief school’s athletics.

OCPS would maintain, schedule and have priority over the stadium year-round, with Orange County reimbursing 50% of maintenance costs. OCPS would coordinate with Orange County Parks and Recreation for at least two uses per year of stadium-related facilities.

Contact Zak Kerr at [email protected].


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