Winter Garden soon could have a new senior-living facility.
At their Aug. 13 commission meeting, city leaders approved the first reading of five ordinances that would pave the way to a 166-unit senior-living facility at Reaves Road and Stoneybrook West Parkway.
These ordinances would allow city annexation of about 8.95 acres at 12920 Reaves Road; amendment of the future land-use map plan for the same property from Orange County Rural to City Low-Density Residential; annexation of about 1.8 acres at 12921 Reaves Road; amendment of the future land-use map plan for that property from Orange County Rural to City Low-Density Residential; and rezoning of the total 10.75 acres from Orange County A-1 (Agricultural) and R-CE-2 (Rural Residential) to City PUD (Planned Unit Development).
The proposed project — Stoneybrook Senior Living PUD — would offer independent and assisted living, as well as memory care. When it was last revisited in March, plans for the Stoneybrook Senior Living PUD included a three-story, independent-living building and a two-story, assisted-living building. There also would be 10 detached, two-car garage buildings.
However, it has faced opposition from residents in the Foxcrest community who live along Dallington Terrace, which at one end backs up to the property in question.
It’s not the first time a project proposal for the Reaves Road property has come into question, though. Winter Garden Community Development Director Steve Pash said three separate plans for a storage facility on the property came through in 2005, 2009 and 2013. All were rejected. The current project came into the picture in 2017. Some concessions have been made since then, including a reduction in the number of units and shifting the retention pond to a property the applicant purchased across the street.
In March, the commission requested the applicant, Allan Bradley, have modified plans drawn up that would include only two-story buildings. However, if there were only two-story buildings, the natural buffer on the north end of the property would be largely decimated. If the plan with both two- and three-story buildings was approved, the buffer would be preserved.
“It’s certainly fair to suggest that we were pleased by some willingness on behalf of the developer to make some concessions and compromise, but I think the best way to characterize how we feel about this is it’s frankly not enough of a compromise,” said resident Jeff Roberts. “They haven’t dealt with the density, which is a significant issue for us as one of the homeowners most impacted at the end of Dallington Terrace. The site lines and the height of the units is certainly a concern, but so is the density, the overall square footage, the impact of that size of a facility. While it’s great to see it as two stories and not three, losing that buffer is a big deal.”
Neighbor Rick McDowell told commissioners that coming to meetings regarding the property throughout the years has become like a “part-time job” for him.
“It just seems to me that … there’s a lot of these facilities around that have popped up lately and … I just don't understand why one has to be in my backyard in an area where it’s all residential,” McDowell said. “I know I sound like a broken record, but time and time again, we’ve sat before this group and respectfully heard what they had to say. We’ve also offered our input, and until now there wasn't even a two-story option they considered. Again, I just don’t know where we go from here. I just feel like it’s a battle of attrition.”
Bradley said in terms of comparables, the size and density of Stoneybrook Senior Living is about on par with Sonata West and Serenades at West Orange.
“We’ve put a lot of time and effort into learning the market and trying to provide something that not only fits into the area but operates well,” he said. “We’re really at a sweet spot in being able to provide the three levels of care in one facility, which is kind of the backbone to what we want to put in this location. … It’s something from an operations and product standpoint we truly believe in. We’ve got a personal interest in providing something right for the location and right for the city of Winter Garden and all its residents.”
“I’ve been on this commission for a very long time, I’ve watched a lot of projects come to the board that people were in favor of and that they were opposed to, and I think one of the things that most people do not take into consideration is the fact that something’s going to go there,” Commissioner Bob Buchanan said. “I personally think is a good project considering what could go there.”
The commission approved the ordinances’ first reading 4-1, with Commissioner Colin Sharman dissenting. The second reading takes place during the Aug. 27 commission meeting.