Community uneasy about 113-home development

Lakes of Windermere residents expressed concern about the proposed development's minimal amenities and lack of a dedicated access road.

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  • | 5:31 p.m. October 4, 2017
  • Southwest Orange
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HORIZON WEST – With traffic congestion and crowded schools being reoccurring issues in the ever-growing West Orange area, a developer’s proposal to build 113 single-family homes adjacent to the Lakes of Windermere community without a dedicated access road has sparked concern. 

During a community meeting held at Sunset Park Elementary School on Thursday, Sept. 28,  Lakes of Windermere residents expressed their dismay regarding the developer’s request to rezone 49.9 acres of orange groves located north of Overstreet Road and east of Ficquette Road from a zoning of rural district to planned-development district for the proposed residential project. 

Residents’ anxiety about the proposal chiefly involved vehicular access to the proposed community, inadequate public amenities and the developer’s request to double the proposed community’s density. 

With the only access road for the community going directly through the Lakes of Windermere subdivision, the about 25 residents in attendance at the meeting seemed baffled by how the developer considered an increase in the density to be a sound idea. 

“There would be only one way in and out and it is not a main road, so only neighborhood streets would allow access to this new neighborhood,” resident Paul Marcoccia said. “With no straight road into it, we’re going to be increasing the number of cars that currently use those neighborhood roads by basically 20%, possibly even more than that. So that’s a huge concern, especially because those are narrow roads not built to handle all that passing traffic.” 

The inconvenience is a difficult fix for the developer, however, as the proposed community is surrounded by property that cannot be developed into roads — with wetlands encompassing two sides, an easement on another side and the Lakes of Windermere community on the other. 

In response to residents’ concern over vehicular access, Jim Hall, director of planning and urban design for VHB firm that represented the developer during the meeting, emphasized the masterplan created for Horizon West in 1996 limits options for creating another access road. 

“The thing I’ve heard most that is really concerning to you all is that vehicle access would be through this neighborhood, but that’s the way it was set up 21 years ago,” Hall said. “That’s the way it is — there’s really no other way in or out. So if we follow the comprehensive plan and the tenets of the Horizon West code ... then there will be access through this neighborhood.” 

Hall added that his firm has been looking at creating other entrance points, but no matter what, any access point would eventually need to filter through the Lakes of Windermere neighborhood. 

"I think we would be less opposed to it if they would stick to the master plan of two homes per acre." - Lakes of Windermere resident Paul Marcoccia

Aside from vehicular access, residents noted other issues with the proposal — the first involving inadequate public amenities. Because the developer informed the HOA the new community would have minimal amenities, residents worry the proposed neighborhood’s future homeowners might use Lakes of Windermere’s three playgrounds and pool despite not paying HOA fees to help maintain it. 

The second issue pertained to the developer’s request to increase the future community’s density from the masterplan-approved density of two homes per acre to four homes per acre. The doubled density, Lakes of Windermere residents fear, would cause even more traffic to the already-stressed neighborhood roads that see heavy traffic during school hours. 

Hall said the increase is really not that significant and that the average density in Lakeside Village is five homes per acre. 

“I think we would be less opposed to it if they would stick to the master plan of two homes per acre,” Marcoccia said. “That would at least make it a little more tolerable for us in terms of the traffic that would have to pass through. And usually, communities that are built with two homes per acre are typically larger homes, so people looking to buy those homes would want more amenities to make that neighborhood more appealing to them, therefore that would also ease our concern with folks using the amenities in our neighborhood when they aren’t a part of our community.” 

Anyone with questions about the project may contact the case planner, Steven Thorpe, at (407) 836-5549, or by email at [email protected]. Residents with concerns may reach out to Orange County District 1 Commissioner Betsy VanderLey by phone at (407) 836-7350, or by email at [email protected].




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