The Oakland Town Commission approved Jan. 10 the preliminary subdivision plan for a new 19-acre neighborhood near the Oakland Police Department.
The Grove is planned for the southeast corner of Oakland Avenue and Catherine Ross Road with 44 single-family homesites. It will connect to the town’s sewer and water systems. The PSP also provides for the required buffering and fences or walls around the perimeter of the property. Access to the project will be from two connections to East Oakland Avenue and one connection to Catherine Ross Road.
The discussion at the commission meeting centered largely on the property’s trees.
Contracted Town Planner Brad Cornelius said the town’s Planning & Zoning Board took issue with three trees in particular on lots 1, 6 and 8. Many trees will be preserved, but the list of trees to be removed includes three oaks measuring 48, 80 and 72 inches.
An arborist hired by the applicant told the P&Z board the third tree actually measures 38 inches because it is severely damaged, has been cut back and needs to be removed.
The removal of trees is limited to those that are deemed in poor health or unsafe by the certified arborist or have a direct conflict with part of the development and avoidance is not practical.
The applicant is required to provide tree replacements or other mitigation to account for the removal of trees as required by the town’s codes.
Commissioners added a condition to the PSP approval, which was for the applicant to get further arborist documentation regarding the three trees in question.
Commissioner Rick Polland said he and Town Manager Steve Koontz looked over the map and agreed the developer has done a good job of protecting as many trees as possible.
Mayor Kathy Stark said she was pleased with the number of houses planned.
“I would point out something in their favor is the density is much lower than what we allow,” she said. “There are less houses per acre than what we allow, so I think that allows for some very positive things to come out of this.”
The applicant, Franco Scalia of New Horizon Investments, is proposing 2.3 dwelling units per acre; the town allows a maximum density of 3.49.
• Public Works Director Mike Parker updated the commission on the town’s alternative water project. The town relies on drinking water to meet irrigation demands, and this is putting a strain on the town’s Consumptive Use Permit, which allows the town to withdraw groundwater from wells to be used for all domestic purposes.
The town — which will exceed its CUP around 2025 — has secured a large piece of property on the west end of Oakland for the $4 million project and expects to apply for $2 million in grants.
“Town staff considered a plan to develop stormwater harvesting as the alternative,” Parker said in a memo to the commission. “Since that time, all newly constructed neighborhoods have been mandated to install separate pipe networks that can deliver irrigation water to residents.
“The town already owns the land where the treatment plant will be placed, and source water will be drawn from a town-owned stormwater canal in an area abutting the Hull Island neighborhood.”
In addition, a preliminary engineering plan has been completed, and this qualifies Oakland for a State Revolving Fund Loan to develop full-blown construction plans should additional funding be needed.
“Now we must continue to look for ways to pay for construction of the next steps,” Parker said.
Town commissioners accepted the alternative water project plans and voted to direct staff to take measures in getting this initiative before the State Legislature in time for the upcoming session.
IN OTHER BUSINESS
• Commissioners accepted the final plat for BayBays Kids, a 3.5-acre commercial subdivision on West Colonial Drive that will include Kiddie Academy and Goldfish Swim School. It also has a dedicated right-of-way for an entrance road and a tract for a lift station.
• The commission accepted the infrastructure improvements made in Oakland Park Phase 68-3. This work included water lines, new roadways and sidewalks.
• Mayor Kathy Stark read three proclamations in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day Jan. 16, Celebrate Literacy Week Jan. 23-27 and School Choice Week Jan. 22-28.
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.