Dr. Phillips apartments receive county transmittal
| 4:37 p.m. August 3, 2015
At the July 28 meeting of the Board of County Commissioners, the commissioners voted unanimously in favor of transmitting a plan for the second phase of The Rialto apartments in Dr. Phillips, including a potential zoning change from commercial to high-density residential.
The apartment project subject area is about 6.5 developable acres by the eastern shore of Spring Lake at the northwest corner of the intersection of Turkey Lake and West Sand Lake roads. Around 50 leaders from area homeowners associations presented seven reasons they believe the area should stay commercial via a letter, including incompatibility with the surrounding area.
Hall and county staff believe the plan of up to 325 single-family units is consistent with the comprehensive plan, he said. County staff recommended transmittal during its review of plans.
"It's a 90% reduction in p.m. peak-hour trips by switching from commercial to residential," Hall said. "The aggregate impact on Sand Lake Road and Turkey Lake Road is 21 p.m. peak trips."
Hall has maintained this stance throughout community meetings on the project, as local citizens have insisted that the traffic from keeping the parcel commercial would put no new cars in the area, whereas residential development would add to the number of cars needing to use the area.
That traffic has been local residents' primary concern. The traffic flow has received an F rating from Orange County at that intersection. County officials plan to overhaul that area within the next few years, during which time traffic should worsen further.
"I've spent a tremendous amount of time -- and I know the community has -- on this issue," Boyd said. "I am not happy with it the way it is, although we are here at a transmittal. ... The traffic obviously is a nightmare -- we all know that. ... We do not have answers as far as what ... approval of the Rialto project may or may not be able to do as far as ... enhancements in this area. I'm looking to go ahead and transmitting this for the period of time, and it will come back for adoption, so hopefully the community will be part of the process."
In the current plans, developers have the capabilities to create 33,000 square feet of office space and 50,000 square feet of retail, Boyd said. He does not necessarily support it but might have five or six more community meetings on the project to get local residents' advice on what defines compatibility in that area, he said.
"There's a ton of work still left to do with this ... with the developer, to make it somehow compatible," Boyd said.
Mayor Teresa Jacobs, who was District 1 Commissioner when the first Rialto phase was built, said she did not have utmost faith in the developers from that time and would like reduced density around Spring Lake, where she believes commercial entities have been much more successful than residential ones.
"I honestly think that there's a lot of residential around the lake and the view from ... the other side of the lake was not something I think most people would want to see," Jacobs said. "I still have some serious reservations about the apartment density on this lake. ... I don't know that I support this when it comes back for adoption."
Boyd said he also would like to see reduced density in that area.
Based on its location, this territory would fall within the Dr. Phillips Urban Preservation District but be right on the edge of Orlando city limits. Voluntary annexation in the Dr. Phillips Urban Preservation District requires a majority of owners within that district and the Board of County Commissioners to vote in favor of that territory joining that district.
County staff said involuntary annexation also would be possible but would require several property owners' cooperation. This is also true of possible annexation of the property into the city of Orlando.