Buffer poses problems in Dr. Phillips neighborhood

A proposed 10-foot-wide hedge is causing ripples between some residents in the Brentwood Club subdivision and their Kilgore Road neighbors.

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  • | 10:58 a.m. October 3, 2019
  • Southwest Orange
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Some residents in Dr. Phillips’ Brentwood Club are at odds with their neighbors regarding a required buffer on the western property line.

During a community meeting Monday, Sept. 30, at Sand Lake Elementary, more than 20 residents — some in the Brentwood Club subdivision and others residing west of it on Kilgore Road — gathered to discuss proposed rezoning and change determination requests.

Orange County Planner Nicolas Thalmueller introduced two requests, which apply to Brentwood Club Phase 2, lots 8 through 28. The nearly 11-acre parcel is zoned R-1AA, or Single-Family Dwelling District. It is part of a larger, 156-acre area west of Apopka-Vineland Road, from Darlene Drive up to Kilgore Road, that was part of a 1989 rezoning.

As part of the 1989 rezoning, the Orange County Commission placed eight restrictions on the area, including a buffer on the west end of the area.

“The restriction requires … a 35-foot area to be a natural vegetative buffer to the edge of the property line,” Thalmueller said. “It’s come to the county’s attention that while some of the lots do have a 35-foot buffer, many do not. Some have 20 feet, some are 15, some have zero feet.”

This is where the rezoning request comes into play, Thalmueller said. However, he added it is confusing because the applicant, Jim Catan, doesn’t want to change the subdivision’s zoning district. Rather, the goal is to amend the restriction in question regarding the 35-foot buffer.

The rezoning is necessary to modify the 1989 BCC Condition of Approval No. 6 to reduce the required vegetative buffer width along the western property line from 35 feet to 10 feet. Similarly, the change determination request is necessary to modify the 1989 BCC Condition of Approval No. 3, which prohibits clearing and removal of vegetation on the western 35 feet.

Catan, a Brentwood Club homeowner, represents a group of 21 homeowners affected by the restriction. He said he and his neighbors recently were made aware by the county their properties were in violation of the original setback requirement. For various reasons, their original vegetative buffers have been reduced for a number of years.

He and fellow homeowners are proposing a 10-foot-wide hedge, which would preserve the buffer and provide more privacy between neighbors. However, the proposal includes shrinking the original required 35-foot buffer to 10 feet. 

“We don’t want to put up a fence, because we don’t really think that’s keeping with the spirit of what our neighbors wanted,” Catan said. “We came up with another type of visual separator that gives a very dense buffer but also addresses all the concerns we have with the buffer. We agreed to build a hedge that’s going to grow 12 to 14 feet high and a minimum of 10 feet wide. This proposal is just asking to reduce this buffer by 25 feet — that’s it. These type of hedges are known to grow very, very fast. They’re privacy enhancing and privacy keeping.”

On Kilgore Road, many  neighbors abutting the western property line of Brentwood Club opposed the decrease of a 35-foot buffer to 10 feet. Some said there is wildlife everywhere, and it should be embraced. Others were worried about the maintenance of the hedge.

“This has never really been an issue until recently,” said John Stephens, a Kilgore Road resident since 1975. “If you put a hedge up, you’re only fooling yourself about the animal issue — they go where they want to. The vines will destroy it. I don’t have a problem with you putting the barrier up there. I think it would be nice, but who’s going to maintain it? Who’s going to be accountable, because right now, you all are supposed to be accountable for 35 feet.”

Catan said Orange County would be responsible for enforcing the homeowners’ maintenance of the hedge buffer, adding the county currently is enforcing the original 35-foot vegetative buffer restriction.

“We’re trying to give you a better, upgraded buffer,” Catan said. “What we’re asking for is better visual separation. We’re asking just in the end for something that does no harm to the Kilgore neighbors — we respect the Kilgore neighbors. We hope that we can fix this situation. 

For more information, contact Thalmueller at [email protected]. For the change determination request, contact Jason Sorenson at [email protected].


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