Winter Garden delays townhome decision

The Winter Garden City Commission did not vote on a request to build 61 new townhomes at 1265 and 1271 Avalon Road.


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Winter Garden city commissioners’ concerns stalled a city decision on a proposal for 61 new townhomes.

Commissioners discussed the townhomes, proposed for 1265 and 1271 Avalon Road, during their meeting Thursday, Sept. 14. However, they voted only to table two of the three ordinances pertaining to the proposal.

The applicant is requesting annexation and to amend the Future Land Use from County Low Density Residential to City Medium Density Residential, as well as rezone the subject property from Single-Family Dwelling District to Planned Unit Development.

The approval would permit the construction of the units in 11 separate townhome buildings that will have five or six units each. The project would include associated site development such as recreation areas, open spaces, sidewalks, a lift station, landscaping and stormwater ponds. 

Although the annexation ordinance passed, the city voted unanimously to postpone the other two ordinances to a date to be determined following a suggestion by Commissioner Ron Mueller and agreement from the applicant.

Mayor John Rees abstained from all three votes because his family owns property located across the street from the proposed development.

DENSITY DISCUSSION

Mueller referred to the proposals as a “sticky wicket.”

“As we’ve all discussed on this board before, Avalon already has an enormous traffic issue there,” he said. “Diagonally across the street from this piece of land is Tucker Ranch. We’re getting ready to invest $25 million into building this incredible park, and instead of putting nice homes in the area, we want to pack it with a bunch of townhomes that, by any stretch of imagination, are not going to be any more affordable for anyone. … I don’t think this is the proper use for this request.”

Planning Director Kelly Carson said the FLU designation of medium density residential allows for up to 10 dwelling units per acre; the applicant is proposing seven dwelling units per acre. 

“This is less than both the immediately surrounding city developments to the east and west … ” she said. “This provides additional housing options for buyers who maybe don’t want to live in a single-family neighborhood. It provides a good transition from the heavy arterial commercial uses from the north, to the more low density further south on Avalon. Staff has analyzed this extensively and does believe that this is the most appropriate use for this property given the context and what surrounds it.”

Carson said a traffic study determined there is sufficient capacity to handle the project. However, Mueller and Rees were skeptical of that determination.

“I’m curious how we get that when we see everyday traffic is deeply backed up there,” Mueller said. “People are constantly complaining, and then our traffic study says, ‘Oh, it’s not a problem.’”

“The traffic is bad; it’s going to be bad,” Rees said. “I don’t know that I subscribe to that.”

Doug Kelly, representing the applicant, said the intent was to be compatible with the surrounding medium density residential developments. 

“We are set on a townhome product, and really the density gets us where we need to be to make this site worth just because of the land value on it,” he said.

After discussing with his client, Kelly agreed to postpone the development discussion. 

STONEYBROOK EXCHANGE

Commissioners approved unanimously the first reading of an ordinance rezoning 11.34 acres located at Stoneybrook West Parkway. 

The subject property is located south of State Road 429, west of Windermere Road, east of Scarlett Sage Court and north of Stoneybrook West Parkway. 

The applicant is requesting to rezone the subject property from Arterial Commercial District to Planned Commercial Development to comprise 13 buildings consisting of office and retail uses. 

The 89,889-square-foot property also will consist of parking, a stormwater pond and enhanced landscaping.

Carson said all the buildings will be one story tall, except for the building at the corner of Stoneybrook West and Windermere, which will be two stories. 

 

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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.