Southwest Orange residents were not afraid to speak their mind Thursday, Aug. 11, during a community meeting held by Orange County Government to get public opinion on a Luv n Care Windermere Veterinary Clinic proposed in the West Windermere Rural Settlement.
Dr. Inderjit Singh and Jasbir Kaur are requesting rezoning and an amendment to the future land-use map to build an animal clinic at 8236 Conroy-Windermere Road, Orlando. The land currently is zoned R-CE Country Estate District, and the applicants are requesting P-O Restricted – Professional Office District. They also are requesting a land-use map change from Rural Settlement 1/1 to Office Rural Settlement.
As part of the rezoning, the clinic would be prohibited from having outdoor animals runs, interior animal-boarding facilities, or new billboards and pole signs; a landscape buffer along the southern and eastern property boundaries would be required; and the building would be limited to a floor area ratio of .15.
Singh moved to 8940 Conroy-Windermere Road, Orlando, in 2013 and has since outgrown his facility, he said.
“Dr. Singh brought his practice to Windermere because Windermere needs vet services,” said Alison Yurko, a land-use attorney representing Singh and his staff. “Their practice has only become busier with the pandemic. The need is even greater. … These patients are coming from the rural settlement.”
Singh purchased the 1.5-acre property at 8236 Conroy-Windermere years ago with the idea of eventually moving his business there and building a home on an adjacent .7-acre vacant tract he also bought.
The site is well buffered with a retention pond to the west and single-family residences to the north, east and south, Yurko said. Commercial property is located further to the east.
Traffic engineers have to assess the entrance and exit, and he would potentially have to make costly median improvements.
Residents were allowed to ask questions after the presentation, and the consensus at the meeting, held at Olympia High School, was they don’t want the animal clinic moving to the site and creating additional traffic, bringing noisy animals and destroying their rural way of life.
Several folks raised concerns about specific issues, including the business being turned into a boarding facility; Cleveland Road becoming an access point; and Singh expanding the business in the future.
“The lots he owns, he’s limited in what he can do because of the rural settlement,” Yurko said.
She also said there would be no access on Cleveland and Edmonson.
Singh said animals would not be boarded, but on occasion an ill dog or cat might need to stay overnight. The practice does not treat agricultural animals.
He also assured residents the building would blend in with the community — the barn-style building would resemble a house.
Norbert Ming said he has lived in the rural settlement for 40 years and his goal is to preserve a 50-year-old neighborhood culture.
“What about the next guy that you’re selling to or the next owner?” he asked Singh.
He also expressed concern about bringing sick animals to the neighborhood.
“And with the monkeypox … you’re bringing sick animals into an area that doesn’t have sickness,” Ming said.
Maria Hamilton expressed disdain for having to fight for her rural community.
“When he purchased the property, he knew it was residential, but he didn’t care,” she said. “He wanted to put that there. He’s already wanting to change things. … As for the buffer, I don’t buy that. … He’s already extending the driveway all the way to the water. … Once one thing is changed, it’s so much easier to change the next.”
Her suggestion was to subdivision this property into smaller lots and build single-family homes.
“As for the need for veterinarians, we have plenty in the area,” Hamilton said. “Why do we have to fight this? We don’t want it to change. We want it to stay residential.”
Another resident said she moved her family from Apopka to raise her children in a rural area.
“If I ever put my house up for sale … no one will ever want to buy next to a veterinarian,” she said.
One resident suggested Singh set up his business in a nearby building that previously housed a CVS Pharmacy. Another said he didn’t want the increased traffic in his neighborhood.
Kelly McIntyre, Singh’s office manager, has worked with the veterinarian for eight years, and she said the practice would reasonably see eight to 10 animals per day.
“It’s not physically possible for us to see 100 patients a day,” McIntyre said. “We don’t have the staff to see 100 a day.”
“I also respect the doctor; he’s, I’m sure, a great vet,” Paul Van Wormer said. “He’s obviously been very successful. But he bought that land specifically years ago to put a business in. I bought my house … we live in the neighborhood in back of this. … It’s a highway now, and now we’re talking about having a business. … It’s ridiculous to me that it’s even a possibility to put a business (there). … We don’t want a business in there. Everyone in this room is against this, and we will fight this tooth and nail.”
“This is part of our transparent process to inform the community,” said Chris DeManche, a project planner with the Orange County Planning Division. “We’re not recommending approval of this. … but it’s a chance for the community to hear this. … It’s part of our planning review process.”
“This typifies why I love my community,” Wilson said at the meeting. “People really care. It can be arduous, it can be intense, but it doesn’t deter my residents.”
Chris DeManche, a project planner with the Orange County Planning Division, said every property owner has the ability to request for a land use or zoning change. When the doctor bought the land, there was no guarantee he would get the land use or zoning change.
“Even if you came in for an application, and we say, ‘There’s no way you’re going to get this approved,’ you have every right to apply,” he said.
Anyone with questions regarding this and other issues in Orange County’s District 1 can email Wilson at [email protected].
Orange County’s Planning and Zoning Commission will hear the request Thursday, Aug. 18, when staff gives a more in-depth presentation and shares feedback from last week’s community meeting. The applicant will have a chance to make a presentation as well.
Community Editor Amy Quesinberry was born at the old West Orange Memorial Hospital and raised in Winter Garden. Aside from earning her journalism degree from the University of Georgia, she hasn’t strayed too far from her hometown and her three-mile bubble. She grew up reading The Winter Garden Times and knew in the eighth grade she wanted to write for her community newspaper. She has been part of the writing and editing team since 1990.