ORANGE COUNTY If all goes according to plan, those who frequent Winter Garden Vineland Road near South Lake and the Grand Cypress Golf Resort could see up to 350 new apartments in the future.
At a community meeting held at Bridgewater Middle School on Wednesday, Feb. 8, Orange County staff and representatives from development company Epoch Properties Inc. presented a request for a small-scale future land-use amendment.
The subject property is located next to the Zen Luxury Apartments, just east of Winter Garden Vineland Road and South Lake and adjacent to the current Perri House Country Inn and Market. Epoch Properties is requesting to amend the future land-use map designation of the site from low-density residential and commercial to planned development — high-density residential to allow for the development of up to 270 apartments.
Eventually, Epoch also hopes to take two adjacent parcels within the Vista Oaks subdivision currently zoned for medium-density residential and request an increase to high-density residential. That would allow for another 80 apartments, bringing the total to 350. However, it has not yet filed an application for this portion of the plan.
Overall, the entire $57.8 million project would encompass 14 acres. Rebecca Wilson, the land-use attorney representing Epoch, said the new apartments would be able to serve those who work closer to Walt Disney World.
“For those of you who live on Winter Garden Vineland Road, you understand a lot of people are traveling to work down at Disney, so we’re trying to locate some very high-end multifamily units near that node of employment and commerce in this area,” Wilson told residents in attendance.
The proposed apartment complex’s site plan will come pending the approval of the requested amendment. Epoch is planning for up to 27 units per acre for the entire planned development.
“One of my main concerns is the value that will be put on that road again, and the speed the cars will go, north or south, it’s (already) beyond the limits.” — Catherine Winter, resident
Residents voiced their concerns, which were mainly about traffic on Winter Garden Vineland Road and how a new apartment complex would affect that traffic. Some community suggestions included deceleration lanes and stoplights, saying that increased traffic with no added safety measures or speed and flow control is dangerous.
“I don’t think any of us are opposed to this project; we’re opposed to the traffic that this project brings and … other projects bring,” Lake Sheen Reserve Homeowners Association President Stan Robson told county staff. “The county has created this problem, and if they can change this whole zoning thing so quickly, they can put stoplights in as well. The traffic on 535 is horrendous, and you need to do something about it.”
David and Catherine Winter have lived off Winter Garden Vineland Road near Lake Mabel for about 40 years and attended the meeting out of concern for traffic in the area.
“One of my main concerns is the value that will be put on that road again, and the speed the cars will go, north or south, it’s (already) beyond the limits,” Catherine Winter said.
“It shouldn’t be high density — I think that’s a bad precedent to set,” David Winter added. “I don’t think the roads are in good shape to handle that traffic.”
The next step for Epoch is a public hearing before the county’s Local Planning Agency on April 20. If the amendment passes through the LPA, it will go to the Board of County Commissioners on June 6.
“Between now and then, we’ll be working with (Orange County) staff, because it’s loud and clear that traffic is an existing concern and will continue to be a concern in this area,” Wilson told residents. “It’s really working with staff to figure out how you balance both making sure that you all can move quickly and efficiently through here and making sure that that is safe for our ingress and egress to this property.”
For more information on this project, contact Orange County Case Planner Jennifer DuBois at [email protected].
Contact Danielle Hendrix at [email protected].