- March 3, 2016
WINDERMERE Although Town Manager Robert Smith said time has run out for a plan to materialize this summer, Windermere officials are interested in widening roadway near Windermere Elementary.
But for another road project, Mayor Gary Bruhn remained hopeful at the March 8 Windermere Town Council meeting of plans ultimately coming together to lengthen Old Winter Garden Road to the west, past Maguire Road.
Bruhn reported to the Council that supporters of extending Old Winter Garden Road farther west in Ocoee to link to State Road 429, Marshall Farms Road or Florida's Turnpike included Ocoee Mayor Rusty Johnson, Ocoee City Manager Robert Frank, District 1 Orange County Commissioner and Central Florida Expressway Authority Vice Chairman S. Scott Boyd and representatives of the town of Oakland and MetroPlan Orlando.
"I just think it's a great option we need to pursue," Bruhn said. The idea is alleviation of traffic on Maguire Road -- the primary northern gateway to Windermere -- to lessen traffic impacts heading north into Ocoee or south into Windermere, as well as keep traffic moving toward Winter Garden.
Bruhn said Boyd had been trying to get the support of county administration to allocate funding to the Windermere Elementary roadway project, but that had not materialized, based on county officials' concerns about spending money for roads potentially mainly affecting municipalities. OCPS had allocated right-of-way and could provide some funds, as well, based on the help it would provide unincorporated Orange County residents zoned for Windermere Elementary -- the vast majority of students -- Bruhn said. District 4 Orange County School Board Member Pam Gould supports the project near Windermere Elementary, Bruhn said.
"I do believe (Orange County) should ... donate money to this specific project," Smith said. "The town of Windermere didn't have a say in where that school went, but we're having to deal with the impacts of that school, and the only reason that we have the traffic in that area is because of Orange County development -- that was approved by them -- and the school, which most of the capacity is (unincorporated) Orange County students."
Smith said funding would need to shake out before revisiting this project, which likely would have to occur in summer 2017 for the consideration of schools.
A final plat and development plan for Estancia at Windermere -- formerly Windsong at Windermere -- passed the Council by a 4-1 vote, with John Armstrong dissenting.
Residents Roger Ambuter and Al Pichon said they were concerned with language that seemed to prohibit protests by residents in that Taylor Morrison subdivision. Bruhn said the language meant no legal action could be taken, not any effect on free speech.
Councilwoman Molly Rose said language in the Estancia agreements referring to possible commercial development in the future was concerning, adding that would not happen. Legal counsel for Taylor Morrison explained the original owners had retained four of 36 acres -- which received the same future land use as Estancia but no zoning -- for the possibility of future commercial development there. Councilman Richard Gonzalez said the owners used such language only to ensure the town could not say it never expected a commercial proposal if the owners were to raise one.
Contact Zak Kerr at [email protected](Ed. note: A prior version of this story did not contain the best information about the elementary school or first readings.)