- May 17, 2018
Two large development projects in Dr. Phillips each have gotten green lights from the county.
Orange County Commissioners voted unanimously during the June 4 meeting to approve requests pertaining to the Kerina Parkside Planned Development project and the Hannah Smith Planned Development project, which is also known as the O-Town West project.
The Kerina Parkside PD encompasses a 215.67-acre parcel that is generally located east and west of South Apopka Vineland Road, south of Buena Vista Woods Boulevard and north of Lake Street. For this project, commissioners approved amending the property’s future land-use designation from low density residential, low-medium density residential, and rural/agricultural to Planned Development-Commercial/Office/Medium Density Residential/Low Density Residential/Senior Living/Conservation (PD-C/O/MDR/LDR/Senior Living/CONS).
In association with the land-use map amendment, commissioners also approved a substantial change request to revise the development program of three tracts within the project to allow for the development of 301 single-family dwelling units, 400 multi-family dwelling units (apartments), 200 senior living units, 150,000 square feet of retail and office uses and a five-acre, Orange County park. This request also included 25 waivers from the Orange County Code.
O-Town West encompasses a 84.32-acre property that is generally located north of Interstate 4, south of Fenton St. and east of Lake Ruby. For that project, county leaders voted to amend the property’s future land-use designation from activity center mixed use, activity center residential, and low-medium density residential to Planned Development-Commercial/Medium-High Density Residential. Commissioners also approved to rezone the property from A-2 (Farmland Rural District) and PD to PD (Planned Development District) (Hannah Smith Property PD). The changes allow for the development of 1300 residential dwelling units, and up to 415,142 square feet of commercial uses.
The O-Town West development is to the east of the Kerina Parkside project. In between the two projects is the site of the relief high school for Dr. Phillips High and Freedom High, which is scheduled to open in 2021. An extension of Daryl Carter Parkway will run through both developments, and connect Palm Parkway to Apopka Vineland Road. The state also plans to build an interchange at Daryl Carter Parkway and I-4 in later years.
The applicant, Miranda Fitzgerald, of Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed, P.A., said landowners from both development projects donated some of the right of way for the Daryl Carter Parkway extension. She added that the county’s 2010 comprehensive plan supports mixed-use developments, and said the way the properties developed surrounding the Kerina Parkside project are a classic example of urban sprawl.
“In 2010, Orange County updated its comprehensive plan, and at that point in time, they included a number of policies and commitments … (that) was a change in
Orange County philosophy,” Fitzgerald said. “(The comp plan now) encourages a mix of uses in these areas that have developed as just a single use.”
Chuck Whittall is the President and CEO of Unicorp National Developments, which is developing the O-Town West project. He also spoke on behalf of the Kerina Parkside development. He said the Kerina project will include upscale apartments and a neighborhood grocery store.
“We have a signed letter of intent with Publix to go here,” Whittall said. “I know there were some e-mails saying that we’re concerned about the apartments (bringing) crime. The apartments we’re building run for $1400 to $2200 a month. … They’re very upscale apartments. I always get taken back a little bit when people tell me, ‘when you live in apartment, you commit crime.’ I lived in an apartment when I got started, and we didn’t commit any crimes.”
Although both projects are adjacent to one another, 14 individuals voiced their thoughts over the Kerina Parkside project, and no speakers signed up to speak about the O-Town West project.
Attorney Frank Ruggieri of The Ruggieri Law Firm, PA spoke on behalf of residents against the Kerina Parkside project. He argued that the residents need a buffer from the nearby commercial and tourist areas, and said the area should remain residential.
“This is a unique area, and I think it’s unique because of the character … of the area and its proximity to the attractions in Lake Buena Vista,” Ruggieri said. “The bottom line is these people need a buffer, and they need a … means to maintain their sense of community. And they need this commission to do that for them and protect them.”
Todd Hockenberry is a former president of the Dr. Phillips Little League. He spoke in support of the Kerina Parkside project because it includes land set aside for ball fields for the little league. The league will need to relocate because Dr. Phillips Charities — who owns land where the league plays — opted not to renew the lease on the land after allowing the league to play on the land for many years.
“We're supporting this project because we’re really running out of options,” Hockenberry said. “There’s not many places you can put fields of five acres in Dr. Phillips. … Without this project, without the generosity of the developers and everybody else involved, I’m not sure what the future of baseball is in Dr. Phillips. There’s not a lot of public spaces. I don’t know of any other options.”
District 1 Commissioner Betsy VanderLey motioned to approve the requests for both projects with added conditions from the board and from staff for both projects. The Kerina Parkside project was approved with added conditions related to alcohol services, lot sizes and revising a condition related to the park that will be in the development among other conditions. O-Town West was approved with a condition to reduce the residential units from 1800 to 1300.
“The final concern was they didn’t want any standalone bars in the neighborhood retail (area), so that’s a restriction I would like to put in there is that we don’t have any bars (in the Kerina development),” VanderLey said. “They didn’t have an objection to a restaurant with a bar, but it would have to be 51% food sales, and therefore more of a restaurant characteristic. … They wanted to make sure that this didn’t become a commercial area that was running into the night and very noisy, so that’s why we’ve asked for no bars in this particular area.”
VanderLey reminded residents that the Kerina Parkside property still would have been able to develop under its current entitlements even if the commission denied the requested actions for the project.
“With the current entitlements, the idea that nothing is going to happen there, I think we’re all agreeing that that’s not the case,” VanderLey said.”It would be lovely if I could look at it through a single lens, but I have to look at it as a responsibility to the community; not only the request of the applicant, but also to make sure we’re addressing the many needs of the community — including what the Little League needs, including what the school (district) is asking for, including what you all have requested.”