OAKLAND — In a meeting hall packed with residents, Oakland town commissioners voted to deny a rezone request that would increase the density allowed on a seven-acre parcel off Remington Road.
Every seat was taken, and folks were standing along the walls of Oakland’s meeting hall Jan. 13 at the first town commission meeting of 2015. Many were there in opposition of a rezone request by developer Al Sohaibi.
Sohaibi, represented at the meeting by attorney Nick Asma and engineer John Kirby, wants to build a subdivision of 11 single-family homes and is requesting the zoning designation be changed from R-1A to R-1. Property with a R-1A zoning yields an average of three dwellings per acre; R-1 allows more with 3.6 to 8, so lots can be smaller. The land is currently a vacant orange grove. Sohaibi has stated his intent to keep the project at 11 houses and create open areas and park space.
Oakland’s Planning & Zoning Board recommended the project be forwarded to the town commission for review. The discussion centered around three important factors: compatibility of use, allowed density and a comparison of the existing and proposed designations. John’s Landing, which is adjacent to this property, is zoned R-1.
Town Planner Max Spann stressed to those in attendance that the dwellings proposed are not low-income homes, duplexes or apartments.
The main concern of residents opposing the neighborhood was that the smaller lots would yield smaller houses that would devalue their own property.
Both Mayor Kathy Stark and Commissioner Willie Welch were not in attendance. Following the denial, the project will be sent back to the Planning & Zoning Board.
The commission approved another zoning map amendment proposition.
The applicant had asked that a vacant 22.5-acre parcel be rezoned from I-1 Industrial to planned unit development. The family-owned property is north of State Road 50 across from Remington Road. The applicant, Keene Trust, is requesting the rezoning to commercially develop the area in the future. The property will be described as Mixed-Use Activity Center on Oakland’s Comprehensive Plan future land-use map.
Spann, the town planner, said that moving forward with the development would force the developer to plant permanent, higher-quality trees. It is currently a pine-tree forest, and these trees can be removed and replanted at any time.
Brent Lacy, director of transportation planning at the Orlando office of Littlejohn Engineering, gave a presentation on transportation and how it will correspond with Oakland’s projected growth in the next 20 years.
He pointed out five major development locations within the town limits — including commercial property along S.R. 50, Oakland Park and Lake Apopka Sound — and he shared possible reliever roads that could help filter traffic. This includes a new roundabout at the intersection of J.W. Jones, Oakland Avenue and S.R. 50; connector roads on the east and west sides of Florida’s Turnpike; and an extension of Sadler Avenue from Tubb Street to Motamassek Road.
Another major loop road would take Motamassek from Oakland Avenue south to S.R. 50 then west to Tubb, north across S.R. 50 and connecting back to Oakland Avenue at its western end. Several trails and trail loops are also possibilities. Part of Oakland’s plan is to promote non-motorized transportation around town and to enhance the trail system.
“Our intent for folks who come in here is to get out of their cars and use the trail, maybe use a shuttle system,” Town Manager Dennis Foltz said. “We will have a trail system in addition to the current West Orange Trail. The intended ‘Dead Man’s Loop’ trail would loop through (Florida’s) Turnpike property, past the cemeteries, along Sadler by the garden over to Tubb and up Tubb to tie back into the trail.”
Commissioners and staff were amenable to the suggestions, but their biggest concern was the recommendation to widen Oakland Avenue to three or four lanes.
“We hope to not have the issue of four-laning Oakland (Avenue),” Foltz said.
Lacy responded, “It has been identified as a need in the future, but it’s not something you have to do.”
At the conclusion of his presentation, Lacy said the town’s existing transportation network would not serve the demand, and improvements are needed to develop a multi-modal network.
IN OTHER NEWS
• Town Manager Dennis Foltz discussed ongoing issues with Oakland’s ZIP code: problems with identity and with funding. Oakland has three ZIP codes in its Joint Planning Area, the area that, at some point, he said, will reasonably be in the town limits. Homes in historic Oakland that don’t have home delivery and require a postal box at the town’s post office use 34760; Killarney, which has a “post office” next to the town’s post office, uses 34740; and all other residential areas that have home delivery either at the address or in a neighborhood box are served from the regional post office station in Winter Garden and use 34787.
Foltz said he is concerned mostly with the commercial development along S.R. 50. ABC Bus, Oakland’s largest employer, is located on S.R. 50 and has a Winter Garden 34787 address. If the issue isn’t addressed, it could create identity problems. Also, some financial distributions from state or federal sources are made based on ZIP codes, and Foltz doesn’t want Oakland to miss out on any funds.
• A mobile farmers market called Fresh Stop has inquired about visiting Oakland twice monthly. A Lynx bus has been repurposed and has special refrigerated racks for fresh vegetables and fruit. The program reaches about 16 communities each month.
• Ron and Kathy Kalish, the new owners of the house at 18 W. Vick St., said they would be renovating the home. Neighbors had expressed concern about safety because the dwelling is known locally as “the mold house.” Kalish is a state-licensed building contractor and a state-licensed mold assessor, and he assured residents the renovations would be done safely.
• The commission appointed Bruce Earl as an alternate on the Planning & Zoning Board and Robert Doyle to a vacant seat on the School Advisory Committee at Oakland Avenue Charter School.
Contact Amy Quesinberry Rhode at [email protected].