Medical office project meets unexpected resident resistance

Residents said the Somita project will cause traffic issues and raises safety concerns.

The .64-acre subject property is located on the east side of South Apopka-Vineland Road, south of Fifth Street.
The .64-acre subject property is located on the east side of South Apopka-Vineland Road, south of Fifth Street.
Courtesy photo
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Orange County hosted a community meeting Wednesday, Sept. 27, at Bay Meadows Elementary School to discuss an applicant’s request to rezone .64 acres from Country Estate District to Planned Development to construct medical office, commercial uses.

The meeting, called by District 1 Commissioner Nicole Wilson, reviewed the development located on the east side of south Apopka-Vineland Road, south of Fifth Street.

The Somita PD Land Use Plan Rezoning would allow for up to 5,800 square feet of medical office uses and 6,900 square feet of commercial uses.

Applicant Momtaz Barq, Terra-Max Engineering, represented the owner, Apopka Vineland Holdings.


Doug McDowell, Orange County case planner, said the current zoning of R-CE allows for single-family residential uses with a minimum lot area of one acre. He said the zoning is inconsistent with the current Activity Center Mixed Use Comprehensive Plan Future Land Use Map designation. 

The ACMU designation only allows new development under a PD zoning consistent with the ACMU standards found in the comprehensive plan. Presently, one single family home could be permitted on the existing parcel.

Uses prohibited in the rezoning would include night clubs, bars, automobile service stations, car washes and warehouses.

The parcel also is located in the Buena Vista North Overlay District.

The applicant is requesting 12 waivers from Orange County code — mostly items from the Buena Vista North regulations — for topics such as minimum lot size, setbacks, parking and landscaping requirements, sidewalk width, and architectural standards.

Other PDs that have been approved in the area include the Hidden Valley community and Buena Vista Commons.

“It’s a very small and simple project,” Barq said. “We anticipate it to be a mostly pedestrian-type attraction from the mosque or school, not necessarily vehicles.”

McDowell said any application for a PD zoning is required to conduct a study to assess the traffic and capacity impacts of the proposed development.

The development must submit a Capacity Encumbrance Letter application to obtain transportation concurrency prior to construction. A traffic study and a proportionate share agreement will be required prior to CEL approval.

In addition, a traffic operational study will be required at Apopka-Vineland Road at Fifth Street. The study will determine and identify if any operational or safety improvements are required as part of the development.

According to county staff assessments, Sixth Street should be improved to Ruby Lake Road to provide multiple access, especially for larger vehicles such as service trucks and emergency vehicles.

“They will need to open up what is now a closed right of way of Sixth Street to the south, and they will access from that right of way, Sixth Street, to Apopka-Vineland and then into the site from the south side,” McDowell said. 


Although county staff recommends improving and opening up Ruby Lake, residents voiced concerns on the impact. 

“If you open up that road, you’re going to have so many people cutting through on Ruby Lake to go out on Apopka-Vineland,” said one resident, who has lived in her home by the mosque since 1983. “It’s going to be a mess. It’s not going to benefit the plaza. It’s going to cause problems on the street.”

A resident who lives right behind the proposed development also voiced his traffic concerns.

“The road opening up is a safety hazard for the children at the school and the people attending the mosque. … Every day I see people speeding and cutting through,” he said. “It’s so congested. To open up that road is going to create chaos.”

Another resident, who was on the original committee that established Buena Vista North, said the committee did not envision all of the waivers destroying the standards set.

If the Land Use Plan is approved and the property is rezoned to PD, the applicants must submit a Development Plan for approval.

The DP will include more detail than the LUP, and the DP will be reviewed by county staff before going to the Development Review Committee for approval. The decision of the DRC may be appealed to the Board of County Commissioners.

The proposal will next go to the Planning and Zoning Commission before moving on to the Orange County Commission. Both meeting dates are to be determined.



Annabelle Sikes

News Editor Annabelle Sikes was born in Boca Raton and moved to Orlando in 2018 to attend the University of Central Florida. She graduated from UCF in May 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in sociology. Her past journalism experiences include serving as a web producer at the Orlando Sentinel, a reporter at The Community Paper, managing editor for NSM Today, digital manager at Centric Magazine and as an intern for the Orlando Weekly.

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