Horizon West Luncheon gives updates on growth, development

The event hosted by the West Orange Chamber of Commerce featured four panelists who answered questions.

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  • | 10:27 a.m. October 16, 2019
Orange County District 1 Commissioner Betsy VanderLey was one of the moderators at the event and provided several remarks during the panel discussion.
Orange County District 1 Commissioner Betsy VanderLey was one of the moderators at the event and provided several remarks during the panel discussion.
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Residents, business owners and community stakeholders had a chance to learn more about one of Orange County’s fastest-growing areas at a Horizon West Luncheon hosted by the West Orange Chamber of Commerce Wednesday, Oct. 9, at Valencia College’s West Campus.

The event featured a primer and a Q&A about the Horizon West area with a panel of four officials and leaders, each with a unique perspective: Olan Hill, assistant manager of the Orange County Planning Division; Ken Kupp, partner with Boyd Development, which is constructing the ongoing Hamlin project; Pam Gould, Orange County School Board member for District 4; and Loren Bender, vice president of business operations and finance at Valencia College.

Questions were moderated by Orange County District 1 Commissioner Betsy VanderLey and former Orange County District 1 Commissioner Scott Boyd.

“We have 40,000 anticipated rooftops — I would say, overall, we’re probably about a little over a third of the way there; we’ve got quite a bit to go,” Hill told the audience. “We’re now seeing more development in some of the newer villages like Village I, Village F and Town Center. Bridgewater and Lakeside are probably closer to buildout than the others, but that’s where we are this morning.”



VanderLey said how quickly Horizon West continues to build out depends on how many people keep moving to the area.

“It is absolutely market-driven, and when you have the numbers of 1,000 residents a week moving to the area looking for housing, obviously that’s going to continue at a faster pace than when Commissioner Boyd was commissioner — we weren’t seeing those kinds of numbers in the area,” VanderLey said.



Hill said the county is currently is processing a Comprehensive Plan text amendment that would allow form-based code within the Town Center, focusing more on the overall form and quality of development rather than separating development solely by land uses.

“We’re trying to get more innovative, trying to get more flexible to recognize the ever-changing market,” Hill said. “We’re certainly going to stay true to our core principals in terms of residential development. We’re very, very keen on porches and alleys and things that make things more walkable, as opposed to some of the characteristics you find in more suburban development in other parts of the county.”



“In a perfect world, schools would open when existing schools reach capacity, available real estate with adequate size and configuration would just appear, it would be located on roadways and utilities with sufficient capacity … that would be perfect, but it doesn’t always happen that way,” Gould said. “We have a 10-year list of schools, which rolls. We re-evaluate that list every single year and move schools up. That’s how I’ve been able to champion with the staff to move our schools up. While we are the fastest-growing area in Orange County, we’re not the only one.”

Bender spoke about higher education and a new Valencia College campus set for Horizon West. 

“We have to think (about) a 40- or 50-year horizon with how we go about building that,” Bender said. “We’re still in the midst of that timeline — we don’t have anything specific set up yet. We’re also at the mercy of funding. … I see us in the long-term horizon being able to work and serve and have a great facility there.”



Former Windermere Mayor Gary Bruhn inquired about Horizon West’s impact on Gotha, Windermere and Dr. Phillips roads.

“All of the east-west extension roads are not going to provide any relief for them,” Bruhn said. “Right now, if you want to get to County Road 535 from Kirkman or Conroy Windermere Road or Apopka-Vineland, it’s an hour. It’s an hour to go 5 miles, and I would just like to see what we have in the plans. If you have two-thirds more coming, the roads are not going to be able to be maintained as they are.”

“There are a couple things that are intended to give that area some relief in terms of traffic,” VanderLey said. “One is the extension of Daryl Carter Parkway. There will be a new interchange on I-4 at Daryl Carter Parkway and that road then will alleviate Sand Lake Road, which feeds into Windermere and you’ll be able to actually get off at Daryl Carter Parkway, go up to Apopka-Vineland and take a left and then 535 out to Horizon West. That should help get some equilibrium.

“Some of the challenges that Windermere has is simply all the lakes,” she said. “It funnels traffic onto just a few roads. … We are limited in what we can do in order to address that, but everything that we can envision that might alleviate that, we’re taking a hard look at to see if it actually would.”


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