County P&Z recommends denial of Monk rezone

Orange County Planning and Zoning commissioners expressed concerns over density, traffic and access for a proposed 113-home development.

  • By
  • | 3:41 p.m. October 4, 2018
  • Southwest Orange
  • News
  • Share

Despite a recommendation for denial by the Orange County Planning and Zoning Commission, a developer seeking to build 113 homes on a piece of land near the Lakes of Windermere community in Horizon West is moving the project forward to the Orange County Commission. 

Planning and zoning commissioners cited density, traffic and access concerns when they recommended denial of the Monk Property Planned Development on 49.6 gross acres west of Duncaster Street, south of Little Lake Sawyer and north of Overstreet Road.

“Our strategy now is we’re moving forward with our BCC (Board of County Commissioners) meeting as scheduled,” said Erika Hughes, of developer VHB Inc.

VHB is requesting to rezone the property from A-1 (citrus rural district) to planned development (PD) to develop 113 single-family homes on the property. The developer also seeks to change the parcel’s districting from Estate Home District — which requires three homes per acre and  minimum 50-foot-wide lots — to Garden Home District, which allows four homes per acre and minimum 32-foot-wide lots.

“The applicant is requesting the use of 11 Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) credits to allow the project to reach the 113 units requested,” Orange County Planner Steven Thorp said.

Planning commissioners voted 8-1 to recommend denial of the requests during the Sept. 20 meeting, citing concerns over density, access to the development and lot sizes, Thorp said.

“The rezoning was (denied) because of the increase in density of the request (is) beyond what was pre-planned for Horizon West, and the lack of a second access into the proposed project,” he said. “The largest concerns were the density of the project, only having access through the existing residential neighborhoods, and lot sizes.”

Current plans for the proposed residential development show only one access point, which cuts through an existing residential subdivision, Lakes of Windermere. Access to the proposed development is a particular point of contention for the Lakes of Windermere residents and has posed  an added challenge for the developer. The proposed community is surrounded by property that cannot be developed into roads. Wetlands border the property on two sides, an easement borders it on another side and the Lakes of Windermere community on the other.

“This site is heavily constrained with the wetlands to the west and the south,” Hughes said. “We have the power line easement to the south, and then we have existing residential to our east. So, anyone coming in here with 50-foot lots or 32-foot lots is going to have the same constraints regardless — one access point.”

District 2 Planning Commissioner William Gusler cited emails he received from residents who live near the proposed development as he voiced his concern over the one access point. 

“One of the things that stands out to me (and) one of the concerns is the access,” Gusler said.“I know a lot of the residents (are) concerned of the overall traffic on the main roads, but in my mind the concern is you’re going to funnel … a whole lot of traffic.”

However, Hughes said the proposed community is compatible with the current existing subdivisions in the area.

“The proposed (land) use is consistent with the underlying village future land-use (classification) and the goals, objectives and policies of the comprehensive plan,” she said. 

Although Gusler agreed the development is compatible withexisting communities, but added it was “not compatible as far as an access (and) as far as traffic.”

Jon Johnston, president of the Lakes of Windermere Homeowners Association, said he would like the developer to keep to what has been previously planned for the proposed project and to keep the currently approved density.

“We were happy with the fact that they (Planning and Zoning commissioners) declined the request for additional density above and beyond what the original Horizon West plan was,” Johnston said, adding that the density currently set for the proposed project is about 75 homes. “We understand it’s going to get developed. We’re not going to put our heads in the sand and say, ‘It’s not going to get developed.’ … The goal would be to try to force them into keeping 50-foot lots and keep it consistent with what the original plan was.” 

Johnston said the HOA will watch for future action to determine its next steps.

“We’re waiting for the developer and the owner to determine where they’re going,” Johnston said. “We have our pulse on the county commissioners. … We would speak our piece (to the commission) and hopefully explain why we don’t want it to go to a higher density.”

Thorp said the date for the County Commission to consider the project has not been set.

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