Greenbelt development concerns Horizon West residents

A couple is planning to retire to one of up to 25 homes proposed on its property, once the site is developed.

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  • | 12:25 p.m. December 23, 2015
Developers are proposing up to 25 units on 16.3 developable acres off Reams Road.
Developers are proposing up to 25 units on 16.3 developable acres off Reams Road.
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HORIZON WEST  A parcel of about 36 gross acres at 14124 Reams Road — known as the Benedict Property — was the subject of a Dec. 16 community meeting at Bridgewater Middle School, hosted by Orange County staff.

And although only 16.3 acres of that parcel is developable as uplands — with the rest being wetlands not to be developed — local residents have concerns that development in this area would interfere with wildlife. The land currently bears a future land use of greenbelt and conservation for Lakeside Village, but if the proposal passes the Board of County Commissioners as presented, those 16.3 developable acres would have a new use as estate home district.

Under that type of future land use, the applicant, Kendell Keith, said developers would seek up to 25 residential dwelling units, which would have to be the large estate kind.

One of those units would house the Benedict couple who owns the land, where they have planned to begin their retirement.

“This is pretty preliminary,” Keith said. “It could possibly be a while before it develops.”

He said zoning likely would not be for another year, but the idea would be to have two upland areas connected by roads through wetlands.

This drew the residents’ concern of wetlands not being preserved, but Environmental Protection Division official John Geiger said the wetlands would all be in an easement.

“It’s not like they’re taking out a lot of wetlands,” Geiger said. “They might have a little road. … If they’re not bulldozing legally, we follow up, and this is one of those sites where there was illegal clearing done. In 2009, there was a violation reported, and … it took until 2012, when we sent an official letter saying it’s done. They had to do restoration, and they had to pay a fine.”

A fine of $10,000 and a mandate to replant were among the consequences, Geiger said.



This area has been part of a study to figure out what Reams Road development would become, District 1 Orange County Commissioner S. Scott Boyd said. Construction to make all of Reams Road four lanes is fully funded, he said.

Moreover, the Reams Road intersection with Center Drive — frequented most by Walt Disney World workers — ultimately would shift west, Boyd said.

Hydrology in the project area could shift, as well, based on a study that has shown water-use reduction of up to 50% with a new technology, Boyd said. St. Johns River Water Management District is encouraging replacements with the best available technology whenever there are breaks, Boyd said. Hookups are required to Orange County sewer and water for this project, Keith said.

Trails in this area will hook up to other Horizon West roads, too, with a hope for Tiny Road trail to eventually connect to the West Orange Trail, Boyd said.

Boyd expanded the discussion to the proposed Horizon West Sportsplex on Tiny Road and connection of Hamlin development roads to that, which threatened sand skinks have stalled by occupying that area. He said his goal remained to break ground there before his term expires next year, and he hopes to have a community meeting soon to update progress at the Dorman Property, where Deputy Scott Pine Memorial Park and the stadium for the West Orange relief high school will be.

The county case planner for the Benedict Property proposal is Nicolas Thalmueller, who can be contacted at (407) 836-5603 or [email protected].

Contact Zak Kerr at [email protected].


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