OCOEE — With votes of 3-2 at its June 16 meeting, the Ocoee City Commission approved both the preliminary site plan and the development agreement for a 302-unit apartment complex called Oasis at Lake Bennet Apartments.
The developer, Picerne Real Estate Group, proposed building a multi-family four-story apartment complex on 13.01 acres within the Ocoee Town Center. To the west is Bluford Avenue; to the south is State Road 50; to the north is Maine Street; and to the east will be Richmond Avenue, across from which will be the City Center West Orange, on Lake Bennet.
Commissioners Rosemary Wilsen and Rusty Johnson opposed the motion. Wilsen said the appearance of the development concerned her, reminding her more of boxes than urban architecture. Johnson said the impact fees from this project — estimated at $3.35 million — should help widen Bluford Avenue to avoid future traffic problems there. Commissioner Joel Keller agreed that Bluford Avenue ultimately would need an expansion, likely to four lanes to match city growth.
A resident expressed dissatisfaction with the developer planning to save only about a dozen of many oak trees on site, as well as with the mentalities and lifestyles of transients she believes the complex would attract.
Development team members made a formal presentation, citing $632,000 in projected annual property taxes and a large, unmet demand for apartments in West Orange County, with Ocoee as an ideal location for such a complex. They said the complex would have an urban design, high density, pedestrian connectivity and more than 10,000 square feet of amenities, such as a pool, a kitchen, a “Starbucks-like” coffee area, a club room, fitness and business centers, and a game room.
The final site plan should face the Ocoee City Commission at its July 7 meeting.
City staff approached the commission with a recommendation to add $1.7 million to the Health Insurance Fund, from which Ocoee covers its staff in self-insurance.
This sum became necessary after a recent influx of claims by city employees, as well as difficulties from having separate cycles for health insurance years and budget years, according to reports from Human Resources Director Gene Williford. The city already owes money to Blue Cross Blue Shield, Williford said.
West Orange Montessori Charter presented an unsolicited $650,000 offer for nine acres of city property, with State Road 429 to the north, Fuller’s Cross Road to the south, Ocoee-Apopka Road to the west and Ocoee Glad Tidings Assembly of God Church to the east.
A representative of West Orange Montessori Charter described the idea to build a preschool that would be the first LEED Platinum Certified U.S. school, which would draw national attention as the “healthiest, most environmental school in the country.”
Wilsen expressed concerns with children outside Ocoee getting first preference, but the representative said she could put Ocoee children atop the preference hierarchy as a condition of approval.
IN OTHER NEWS
• The commission unanimously approved aligning its general municipal election with the Presidential primary March 15, an estimated savings of $60,000-$75,000.
• The Sorenson Property — 2.23 acres at 1042 Ocoee-Apopka Road — became part of Ocoee by annexation under A-1 agriculture zoning per unanimous commission approval.
A first reading for an ordinance requiring emergency access to all gated communities occurred, with commissioners deliberating who should be responsible for payments to align systems. A second hearing on this is scheduled for the July 7 commission meeting.