In a nearly three-hour meeting Tuesday, Aug. 18, the Ocoee City Commission discussed several topics — including the approval for a preliminary/final site plan for a new Comfort Inn/Mainstay Suites.
The 3.17-acre property is located at 11409 W. Colonial Drive — southeast of Marshall Farms Road. It is zoned as general commercial, with the northeast part of the property located within part of a conservation area — which will not be developed to stay in line with city policy.
“It’s a combination of three lots — two of them came before you a couple of months ago for annexation and rezoning — and since it’s been annexed in, it’s been combined into one lot,” Ocoee Zoning Manager Kiel Gajadhar said. “This proposed project is a joint project, which (includes) a hotel, as well as a sit-down restaurant at a future time.”
The plan calls for a six story, 75,000-square-foot Comfort Inn/Mainstay Suites hotel that will have 120 rooms, as well as a one-story restaurant on the south side that would be a part of phase two of the project, Gajadhar said.
Along with the final plan, the applicant asked for five waivers, including: a waiver to raise the height from four to six stories (C-2 Zoning only allows for four stories); a waiver for the minimum building setback (the developer proposed a 20-foot front building setback in lieu of the required 50-foot setback); a waiver for minimum parking-space requirement (a project this size requires 137 parking spaces, but the developer asked for 133 because of varying peak-area parking between the hotel and restaurant); a waiver for the maximum side slope for the retention pond from 5:1 to 3:1 (because of the location of the retention area, as the developer wants to minimize impact to the adjacent wetland areas); and finally a waiver to reduce the drive aisle from 24 to 22 feet (because of the limited width of the parcel and wetlands to the north).
With no additional comments or issues, the commission proceeded to approve the plan in a 4-0 vote, with Mayor Rusty Johnson abstaining due to a conflict of interest.
PRELIMINARY SUBDIVISION PLANS APPROVED
The item that received the most discussion came following the approval of the hotel and included a public hearing for the CLRM Planned Unit Development preliminary subdivision plan (McCormick Road Property).
The parcel is 212.3 acres and is located south of East McCormick Road and west of North Apopka Vineland Road, with the West Orange Trail bounding it on the west and south side. The land use was amended from Orange County rural to city of Ocoee low-density residential — which allows for up to four dwelling units per acre.
“This set of plans is not a constructible step — it’s just the next step in the process; it more solidifies what was shown in the planned unit development and allows them to then go and finish the final engineering or civil plans for the construction,” said Michael Rumer, the city’s development services director. “There (are) three lot sizes, it’s in four phases, there’s open space, there’s a lake in the middle of it, and there is recreation.”
The big point of contention for some on the commission centered on the subdivision’s effect on traffic and schools — specifically Ocoee Middle and Prairie Lake Elementary.
With 377 lots planned alongside a busy road such as Apopka Vineland, commissioners Larry Brinson and George Oliver were worried about the possible issues of having that many more cars on the road.
“I understand there are processes and procedures … but it would be great — for one time — that when we’re building these things we see some infrastructure ahead of these large projects,” Oliver said. “When you’re sitting there on that road trying to get out of there, and you try to explain this to the average citizen, they don’t understand — the only thing they understand is, ‘I’m in traffic.’”
The concerns were addressed by a representative from the developer, who informed the commission the units would be built in two phases — the first of which would see 185 units be built, although only 90 may be constructed to start.
The commission voted 4-1 to approve the preliminary subdivision plan, with Oliver dissenting.