- July 26, 2015
GOTHA – Gotha and Windermere area residents are collaborating to express their staunch opposition to a proposed development at 9051 Westover Roberts Road.
The 6.66-acre property, situated at the northwest corner of Westover Roberts and South Apopka-Vineland roads, currently has a future land-use designation of Rural Settlement with a permitted density of one residence per acre and a zoning classification of Country Estate Cluster District.
Under this designation and zoning, only six homes would be permitted. However, the applicant, Darrell Nunnelley, who represents the property owner, has submitted a request to the County to change the designation to Planned Development Commercial/Assisted Living Facility.
According to Orange County Planner Nicholas Thalmueller, the applicant has not yet submitted- ted a rezoning application, but a rezoning of Planned Development District would be required to permit the type of development the property owner wants to build.
“We moved here because it is a rural area and under the protection of the comprehensive plan where you don’t have the irresponsible commercial growth just for the sake of growth. We want it to stay rural.”
— Neal McFarland
During a community meeting held Jan. 25, the applicant discussed the plans under consideration for the property. The plans include a 30,567-square-foot assisted-living facility with 50 beds, a gas station and a convenience store.
These proposed uses for the property, however, are a source of concern for the surrounding community. Because the property is located within the Gotha Rural Settlement, future development of the site must abide by certain guidelines outlined in the County’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan.
Nearby residents against the development emphasize that the proposed uses do not meet any of the Rural Settlement guidelines set forth by Orange County. And many, 25-year Gotha resident Neal McFarland shared, purchased homes in the area because of the protections associated with Rural Settlements.
The residents worry commercial developments such as these would change the rural character of Gotha, which might affect its appeal and impact home values.
“We moved here because it is a rural area and under the protection of the comprehensive plan where you don’t have the irresponsible commercial growth just for the sake of growth,” McFarland said. “We want it to stay rural.”
According to McFarland, an assisted-living facility and gas station are not needed, are incompatible with the surrounding development and would damage the tree canopy.
Other concerns – particularly for those living in Westover Reserve and Roberts Landing – relate to the close proximity of the project to their homes and the traffic that it might generate.
“The only justification to even consider it would be if it provides needed local services, but an assisted-living facility and a gas station are not needed local services here,” McFarland said. “Within three miles, there are plenty of nursing homes, with a couple more being built — also within three miles. There are also like eight or nine gas stations within that (radius).”
Thalmueller said developments with commercial and office use are allowed in Rural Settlements according to the Comprehensive Plan, as long as they are compatible with the development pattern in terms of scale, intensity, size, and architecture.
“The Comprehensive Plan allows some commercial and office uses within rural settlements,” Thalmueller said. “These uses must have a scale and intensity that is compatible with the existing development pattern in the area and are limited to uses that will serve the residents of the immediate area. This means that a commercial or office building would have to be built to a compatible size and architectural style with development in the surrounding area, and not be designed to attract ‘pass-by’ trips.”
The proposed ordinance will be considered by the County’s Planning and Zoning Commission April 19 for a recommendation of approval or denial to the Orange County Board of County Commissioners. It will then head to the BCC on June 5, for a final vote.