Traffic was a top concern during two community meetings that pertained to two proposed developments along Avalon Road. County leaders, including District 1 County Commissioner Betsy VanderLey, hosted the meetings on Monday, Oct. 8 at Bridgewater Middle School.
The first proposed development, given the project name Avalon Groves, encompasses 37.83 gross acres and is located on the east side of Avalon Road, south of Hartzog Road, north of Arrowhead Boulevard and west of Vista Del Lago Boulevard. The applicant is requesting to amend the property’s future land-use map designation from Growth Center-Planned Development-Commercial/Low-Medium Density Residential and Growth Center-Planned Development-Low-Medium Density Residential to Growth Center-Planned Development-Commercial.
The subject property contains two planned developments that are owned by the same owner: Island Reef PD and the Groves of West Orange PD.
The applicant is proposing the development of up to 328 short-term rental units and 20,000 square feet of retail/commercial space on the subject property as a whole. The Island Reef PD currently is entitled for the development of up to 318 timeshare units, and the Grove of West Orange PD is approved for the development of 108 single-family detached and attached residential units, according to the meeting notice.
Property-owner representative David Hulme spoke on behalf of the project. He said the request being made isn’t to change the amount of units but rather the intended use for the units.
“What the owner is trying to do is to bring this parcel of land back to some its original uses,” Hulme said. “We’re actually not adding any additional units. We’re actually just changing the use. ... If we do what’s entitled right now, we’ll generate more (traffic) trips. ... Our change of use to this transient/short-term rental, will actually reduce the traffic generated by the property.”
The other proposed development has been given the project name Avalon Park. The subject property encompasses 17.9 gross acres at 14544 Avalon Road, located on the west side of Avalon Road, north of Arrowhead Boulevard, east of the Orange/Lake County line and south of Grove Blossom Way. The applicant is requesting the amend the property’s future land-use designation from Growth Center-Commercial to Growth Center-Planned Development-Medium-High Density Residential.
If the amendment is approved, it would allow for the development of up to 395 multi-family dwelling units. The property’s current designation allows for the consideration of commercial development, according to the notice.
The owner, Robert Reese, has been developing properties in Central Florida for about 27 years. He said his intention for this proposed development is to build apartments on the property.
“This is a situation whereby what we’re proposing is (going to have) less traffic impacts than what is arguable already (entitled) here,” Reese said.
William Whatley lives along Arrowhead Boulevard, which is near the two proposed developments. He said although he’s not opposed to development, he has concerns over traffic, safety and wildlife.
“We need to step up and mitigate some of these initial (traffic) safety issues,” Whatley said, adding his concern is over ingress and egress for local residents. “There’s needs to designated turn-in lanes for Arrowhead … and at Hartzog.
“Even though they’re separate projects that we reviewed tonight, from our perspective as being local residents, they are one in the same (in terms of) issues (that) apply for both projects,” Whatley said. “I’m not opposed at all to the development. … I’m just opposed to developments that are done without consideration of human safety (and) without consideration of the wildlife, the archeological resources and so forth. That’s my primary concern. Any project can take place as long as it has proper planning and consideration of the surrounding public’s concerns.”
Regarding traffic concerns, VanderLey said a number of infrastructure projects are in the works that will address some of the traffic issues on Avalon Road.