WINTER GARDEN – Discussion of nine homes brought nearly 10 times that number of residents, who shared their concern and opposition to the proposed neighborhood.
Orange County staff hosted a preliminary community meeting Feb. 15 at Whispering Oaks Elementary School for the proposed nine-home residential development titled Avalon Subdivision.
The subject site for the proposed nine-acre development is located north of Avalon Road, west of Sanctuary Lane and east of Redmark Lane. The development proposal makes two requests: to amend the future land use map designation from Rural Settlement 1/5 to Rural Settlement 1/1 and to rezone the site from Citrus Rural District to a Planned Development District.
According to Andrea Cardo, the project manager of applicant Davila Homes Construction, few details are available currently because the proposal is in the initial stages.
Cardo prefaced her speech by stating that development and growth are lifelong constants that should not always be viewed with negative connotations. She then delved into the details, sharing that Davila Homes intends to minimize the impact to surrounding developments with their project, maintain a rural country theme and make the development a secluded residential enclave.
“Approving a planned development would be a terrible precedent for our area." – Rosie Fussell
The home builder also shared the lot configuration for the nine single-family homes that, although in a nine-acre neighborhood, would be located on four-and-one-half acres. This satisfies the open-space requirement dictated by design standards of the Wekiva Study Area — of which the Lake Avalon Rural Settlement is part.
However, despite Cardo’s details, the majority in the room raised their hand in opposition of the proposal when prompted by Orange County District 1 Commissioner Betsy VanderLey. The residents were concerned primarily that approval of the planned development would set a precedent that could pave the way for more residential or commercial development in what was supposed to be preserved as a rural settlement.
“If a planned development is approved for the Lake Avalon Rural Settlement, there will be a stampede to get additional planned developments approved,” said Rosie Fussell, who moved to the area in 1994. “Approving a planned development would be a terrible precedent for our area.”
Rural settlements, first recognized by the county in 1991, are designations aimed at preserving historic and agricultural areas throughout the county. As of 2015, there were 22 rural settlements in Orange County, all of which abide by strict zoning codes that regulate the use, intensity and density of proposed developments.
The Lake Avalon Rural Settlement’s three permitted residential densities are one dwelling unit per five acres, one dwelling unit per every two acres, and one dwelling unit per every one acre.
Considering these restrictions, some residents were confused by how the applicant was permitted to make its request. However, the protections from certain uses afforded by a rural settlement designation are not as extensive as expected because the county’s future land-use policies provide a small loophole via cluster plans.
To ease their worries, VanderLey emphasized the applicant’s request is not guaranteed approval with the claim of “asking is not getting.”
The county’s next Planning and Zoning meeting for this request is scheduled April 20 in the Commission Chambers at the Orange County Administration Center.
Contact Gabby Baquero at [email protected].