Orange County OKs 81-home development in Horizon West

As a compromise, the developer reduced its proposal from 113 to 81 homes and kept the existing land-use designation.

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  • | 12:20 p.m. March 19, 2019
  • Southwest Orange
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Orange County commissioners have approved a developer’s rezone request for a proposed 81-home development in Horizon West.

The rezoning for the proposed project, known as the Monk Property Planned Development, was granted during the March 12 county commission meeting.  The residential development will be located on a three-parcel site totaling 49.6 acres, which was rezoned from Citrus Rural District (A-1) to Planned Development District.

The project – situated west of Duncaster Street, south of Little Lake Sawyer and north of Overstreet Road – met fierce opposition by residents from the adjacent Lakes of Windermere neighborhood in previous community meetings. The residents cited concerns about the project due to density, traffic and access to the property. 

The project applicant – Erika Hughes of VHB, Inc. – originally proposed 113 homes on the property, but the proposal was denied 8-1 by the county’s Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) in September.

As a compromise, the developer reduced its request to 81 homes with 50-foot-wide lots, and agreed to keep the existing Estate Home District land-use designation. Previously, the developer requested a change to Garden Home District, which allows four homes per acre and minimum 32-foot-wide lots. 

As a result, P&Z recommended approval of the rezone request in January with certain conditions, but Lakes of Windermere residents remain concerned.

Jon Johnston – president of the Lakes of Windermere homeowners association – remained opposed to the project, and asked county commissioners to ensure the project included similar amenities to the surrounding neighborhoods and adequate parking spaces.

He also requested that, following the project’s completion, any damage to the neighborhood’s roads be repaired by the developer. Orange County District 1 Commissioner Betsy VanderLey said the county will be able to address any needed road repairs.

“The one thing we can address most readily is the construction traffic crossing that road and making sure we’ve got an assessment of the road conditions prior to construction and then after to repair any damage,” VanderLey said.

Lakes of Windermere homeowner Jesse Rhoads emphasized the project would still create a significant inconvenience because vehicles can only access the new neighborhood via the Lakes of Windermere’s crowded streets.

“Our streets in Lakes of Windermere are barely wide enough to get two cars parked on the streets at the same time, and if you have construction crews coming in there or even a fire engine, it’s not going to be able to make it through,” Rhoads said. “So we’re going to have a public hazard because we don’t have wide-enough roads for the access roads in and out of that subdivision to properly accommodate these new homes.”

Hughes said she understands the concern, but the property is geographically challenged.

“Unfortunately, this property is landlocked,” Hughes said. “We have a large wetland system along our western border; we have the Lakes of Windermere and the additional subdivision to our east and our south … and there is a power line easement along the south. So there is only one access.”

Hughes added VHB is in the process of designing the project’s preliminary site plan and the construction access and parking issues will be taken into consideration.

VanderLey added that her staff will make efforts to ensure the road widths in the new neighborhood are appropriately sized, but she cannot do anything to fix the problem in the existing Lakes of Windermere.

“I’ve asked staff to take a look at the width of those roads going forward to make sure you can safely get a firetruck down the road and parking on one side, at a minimum,” she said. “But, obviously, in terms of a neighborhood that’s already built, there’s really nothing I can do. I’d love to offer them something, but there is nothing I can offer them in terms of retrofitting their areas without impacting their front yards.”



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