Monk Property moves forward

Orange County Planning and Zoning commissioners recommended approval to rezone the property to allow for the development of 81 single-family homes.

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  • | 2:50 p.m. January 23, 2019
  • Southwest Orange
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A proposed residential development that has been a source of contention among some Horizon West residents is one step closer to breaking ground.

The 49.6-acre parcel known as the Monk property is located at 13000 and 13003 Orange Isle Drive.
The 49.6-acre parcel known as the Monk property is located at 13000 and 13003 Orange Isle Drive.

Orange County Planning and Zoning commissioners on Thursday, Jan. 17, voted unanimously to recommend approval of a rezoning request for the 49.60-acre parcel known as the Monk Property. The applicant, Erika Hughes, of VHB Inc.,  is requesting to rezone the property from A-1 (Citrus Rural District) to PD (Planned Development) to allow for the development of 81 with a minimum lot size of 50 feet at a density of 3.19 units per acre. The property is located at 13000 and 13003 Orange Isle Drive and is west of Duncaster Street, south of Little Lake Sawyer and north of Overstreet Road.

“The applicant has substantially changed that request to 81 (residential) units,” Orange County Planner Steven Thorp said. “DRC (Development Review Committee) has recommended that the commission make a finding of consistency with the comprehensive plan and recommends approval of the Monk Property PD.”

The 81 homes in the requested development is a reduction from a previous request of 113 homes. The previous request received a recommendation of denial by the Planning & Zoning Commission at its Sept. 20 meeting. The applicant reduced the number of homes as a compromise, Hughes said.

“We were back here in September with the original proposal of 113 dwelling units, which created a density of four-and-one-half dwelling units per acre,” Hughes said. “We reduced our program by about 30%, and our density now is about 3.19 dwelling units per acre, which is significantly less than what our surrounding neighborhoods have.”

The areas surrounding the Monk Property have posed as a challenge for the project and as a source of contention for area residents. Protected wetlands border the 49-acre property to the west and north, a private dirt road is to the south and the Lakes of Windermere neighborhood is to the east. Because of these limitations, access to the proposed development is limited to going through the Lakes of Windermere neighborhood. The limited access has been one of the biggest grievances among area residents, particularly residents of the Lakes of Windermere.

Although a number of residents have expressed their oppositions at previous meetings related to rezoning the Monk Property, there were no residents who came to the Jan. 17 Planning and Zoning meeting to express support or opposition to the proposed development. However, some residents sent emails to the county, Thorp said.

In previous meetings, residents raised concerns over limited access to the development, school overcrowding, traffic and density, among other concerns, Thorp said. 

“There were two community meetings for this request,” he said. “(At) the first meeting, we discussed the original request at the 113 dwelling units. At that meeting, we had 25 residents present. The ones expressing opposition to the project (were opposed) due to the proposed density, wildlife impacts, traffic and vehicular access through the existing subdivision as (far) as access related to the construction traffic.”

Thorp added the second community meeting had about 20 residents in attendance, but their reasons for opposing the development were the same as the grievances from the first community meeting.

Anyone aggrieved by the action taken by the Planning and Zoning Commission can file an appeal within 15 days of the decision date of Jan. 17. Appeals are subject to a filing fee of $483. The Planning Commission’s recommendation of approval does not become final until the 15-day appeal period expires without anyone filing an appeal in a timely manner.