Developer proposes 400 apartments in Dr. Phillips

Residents in the area cite traffic and school overcrowding as concerns.

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  • | 12:37 p.m. October 17, 2018
  • Southwest Orange
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A developer seeks to add 400 apartments and 15,000 square feet of commercial space on 17 acres in Dr. Phillips.

The development, named Bering I, is proposed for 17.67 acres north of Lake Street, east of Ruby Lake Road, south of 10th Street and west of Oak Street in Southwest Orange County.

County leaders hosted a community meeting Tuesday, Oct. 9, at Sand Lake Elementary School regarding Bering I. The developer is requesting to amend the property’s future land-use designation from Activity Center Mixed Use to Planned Development-Commercial/Medium-High Density Residential (PD-C/MHDR). Currently, the property is approved for 420 timeshares and 30,000 square feet of commercial, said Jim Hall, of Hall Development Services. 

“We are going from timeshare to apartments,” Hall said, adding that the developers also are reducing the amount of commercial space as part of the requested change from the property’s current entitlements. “There’s a slight lessening of density from a traffic standpoint.”

Area residents at the meeting, including Sand Lake Point resident Miles Katz, cited concerns over traffic, school impacts and potential crime.

“I am concerned about the overpopulation that (could) be coming to this school (Sand Lake Elementary),” Katz said. “I’m concerned about traffic. I’m really concerned about potential crime, and overall, I don’t like a lot of medium- and high-density living coming to the area, because it’s really a single-family residential (area). It’s what we want, as a group. Most of the people I’ve talked to want single-family residences. … Something different should be proposed. Perhaps either stick with the timeshares or go less with less residences and more green space and less commercial. That would be more acceptable.”

Hall said that apartments would generate less traffic than timeshares.

“With timeshare, (people) are there for a week for vacation, and so (they) come and go all the time,” Hall said. “When you live somewhere, you go to work in the morning and you come home and maybe you go out another time and you come back.”

Regarding traffic, Orange County Transportation Planning Manager Renzo Nastasi said the Florida Department of Transportation is working on an interchange project at Daryl Carter Parkway that has a target date to begin construction in 2019. Once completed, it should help alleviate some of the traffic issues in the area. He also said the county currently is working toward widening Lake Street to four lanes. 

“On Lake Street, we’ve acquired about three-quarters of the property necessary to widen Lake Street,” Nastasi said. “We have one property still to acquire, but that’s dependent on a public-private partnership from a development on the south side (of Lake Street). We need probably another 30 to 35 feet of right-of-way. … We’ve been slowly acquiring the right-of-way necessary to widen the road.” 

District 1 County Commissioner Betsy VanderLey added the county cannot deny developments because of potential traffic impacts.

“The state prohibits us from denying any project based on traffic impacts,” VanderLey said. “That said, we do have the recourse to have them (developers) contribute to the (traffic) impacts they’re going to make, but the state does not allow us to deny any particular development solely on traffic impacts.”

VanderLey also said road projects take years to complete — longer than residential and/or commercial developments.

“When we look at roads, there’s a process that we go through that includes public meetings,” she said. “It includes looking at wildlife, it includes looking at wetlands … that process takes a while. You don’t always see the road (project) break ground and get done about the same time that a development breaks ground and get done.”

Regarding schools, Orange County Senior Planner Jennifer DuBois said potential school impact have yet to be determined.

“In all likelihood, they (the developer) are going to have to enter a capacity-enhancement agreement with Orange County Public Schools,” DuBois said. “They still have to go through the process of completing that determination with OCPS.”


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