Horizon West residents living near Avalon and Flemings roads can breathe a sigh of relief: Improvements are coming.
Orange County commissioners approved on March 22 the results of a design study on the troubled roads. That study — which focuses on a two-and-one-half-mile segment of Avalon from Hartzog Road to north of Water Spring Boulevard, as well as a one-mile segment of Flemings from Avalon to the Lake County line — included a series of improvements that will help traffic flow and improve safety.
On Avalon Road, those include two 12-foot travel lanes in each direction, with a 22-foot raised grass median and a 10-foot multi-use trail and 6-foot sidewalk to improve mobility for bicycles and pedestrians. Roadway lighting and landscaping were both recommended.
Similarly, the Flemings design would include two 11-foot travel lanes in each direction with a 20-foot raised grass median and parking on both sides. It also includes a 10-foot multi-use trail and 6-foot sidewalk to improve mobility for bicycles and pedestrians. Roadway lighting and landscaping were recommended.
Avalon is currently a two-lane undivided rural roadway with a posted speed of 45 mph with no sidewalks or streetlights. Similarly, Flemings is a partially improved two-lane undivided roadway with a speed of 30 mph, with no connected sidewalk system and no streetlights.
The study reported existing average daily traffic volumes on Avalon range between 12,000 and 14,000 vehicles per day. Design year 2047 traffic is expected to increase to 36,000 on Avalon and 33,000 on Flemings.
Segments north of Avalon have been widened to four lanes already. Brian Sanders, assistant manager from the county’s transportation planning division, said segments to the south down to U.S. 192 are in a similar widening study.
Development in Lake County in the past 15 years has had a pattern of progression from U.S. 192, pushing east toward the county line. Sanders said there is demand for east-west traffic to connect to Flemings and become part of the Orange County road network.
In five-year crash data from January 2015 to December 2019, both corridors totaled for 60 crashes, with one single-car fatality and 23 injury crashes.
The projects now advance to design, right-of-way acquisition and construction pursuant to the agreement. As part of that agreement, Flemings will be completed to the Lake County line by Jan. 1, 2026.
Confusion regarding a waiver request stalled discussion and, ultimately, a decision on the Elysian apartment proposal.
Developers of the Elysian project hope to build 324 apartment units on 16.9 acres at the northeast corner of Avalon and Seidel roads. The complex would include 324 luxury apartment units, six four-story apartment buildings, four three-story carriage home buildings and a 9,000-square-foot clubhouse with an indoor sports court, pool and spa, theater room, and more. Apartments will range from $1,400 to $2,200 per month.
Although earlier documents included a request for a waiver from Orange County Code to decrease the setback along Avalon and Seidel roads, at the March 22 meeting, Chuck Whittall, of Unicorp National Developments, said the developer had rescinded that request.
However, the confusion derailed the conversation and, ultimately, the commission decided it would continue discussion at its Tuesday, April 5, meeting.
“What was posted to the public was not correct, and I would ask for the continuance so we can bring this to the public, have some engagement and then make sure we get it right,” District 1 Commissioner Nicole Wilson said. “I didn’t have all of the information in front of me correctly, so I think at the very least I need to be able to discuss all those things with the residents.”
Whittall said the developer faces $60,000 per month in interest costs and blamed the confusion on not being able to meet with Wilson.
“Commissioner, with all due respect, we did not meet, so the only thing I had to go on the last eight months was meeting with your staff, going by the code that’s signed by Orange County for 25 years,” Whittall said. “I did everything per code.”
During discussion about the project, Whittall addressed concerns about the project, including building heights.
County Director of Public Works Joseph Kunkel said some residents questioned the maximum five-story height allowed by the code, but staff said it is consistent with other approved complexes in the area.
To address the concerns, the developer is exploring the possibility of using flat roofs.