Ocoee city commissioners gave developers the green light for a proposed 1.25-acre development on Old Winter Garden Road near Hempel Avenue.
The proposed development, to be located at 3872 Old Winter Garden Road, received its needed annexation, rezoning and land-use amendment approvals during the Feb. 19 Ocoee City Commission meeting.
The applicant, Brian Denham, intends to construct a three-story medical office complex spanning 33,200 square feet on the currently vacant site.
The site is directly east of a recently built 7-Eleven convenience store that nearby residents say is causing drainage issues for the Falcon Pointe community’s HOA-maintained retention pond.
“I have lived by this retention pond for 20 years,” said Falcon Pointe HOA Vice President Elmer Carrier. “For 20 years, our community has enjoyed Memorial Day and Fourth of July community cookouts at that pond, because it has always remained dry. We set up a bounce (house) and water slides for our children from our community.
“But that did not happen last year, because the pond was full of water,” he said. “Even in the 2004 and 2005 hurricane season, (after) five back-to-back hurricanes, this pond held water for a maximum of three days. … But since 7-Eleven was built, the pond has never been dry again. Everyone says it’s because we’ve had a wet season. However, approximately 200 feet across the street … the city of Ocoee’s pond is completely dry.”
Carrier believes the medical office complex will exacerbate the drainage problems.
The 7-Eleven and medical office are located within an Orange County/Ocoee joint planning area. However, the 7-Eleven was approved by Orange County, said Ocoee City Planner Mike Rumer.
Because Orange County is the entity that approved the 7-Eleven, which uses a septic system, and the site plans for the medical office complex include stormwater management via an underground vault, Ocoee District 2 Commissioner Rosemary Wilsen felt it would be illogical to reject the project.
“It bothers me to think that Orange County put a 7-Eleven in there, and yet we’re questioning a medical building that looks really sharp and is going to be (in operation) Monday through Friday,” said Wilsen, whose district includes the proposed development. “I realize we’re talking about drainage issues, but the drainage issues came when the 7-Eleven came in. And (the applicant) seems to be trying to conquer or resolve the drainage issue with their property. … So I don’t believe that Ocoee is the issue. I think Orange County started this (issue) when they let that 7-Eleven go in there.”
Jason Morgan, HOA president of the 95-home Falcon Pointe, also opposed the office complex because the building would look “out of place” next to their community and could adversely impact their property values, he said. He also cited concerns regarding the building’s proposed height, which could enable people to look into the properties of some of the homes in the subdivision.
In response to those concerns, the applicant plans to retain many existing trees on the property and use bamboo hedges to obstruct any view of the community from the building.
“I think we’ve gone to great lengths to try and preserve (the residents') view, and that line of sight will be penetrated by a whole lot of trees there,” Denham said. “So I think at the end of the day, it’s going to block the view. The biggest thing to think about is that this is not a 24-hour 7-Eleven; this is an 8 (a.m.) to 5 (p.m.) use of a medical office. So in the evenings and on the weekends, you won’t have people looking down on the properties when you’ve got the most people (home). I understand some people may be out there during that day, but that’s why we’re also adding the bamboo trees to help block it.”