Residents voiced their concerns regarding a veterinary clinic proposed on a property with the majority of the site being wetlands.
Orange County’s Zoning Division hosted a community meeting to make residents aware of the Vista Pointe Vet Clinic project Wednesday, Jan. 24, at Lake Whitney Elementary School.
The applicant for Vista Pointe, Momtaz Barq, is requesting a special exception in the Citrus Rural District to allow a veterinary service with no outdoor runs.
The subject property is located just west of Lake Whitney Elementary, north of McKinnon Road, west of Maguire Road and southeast of State Road 429, at 1450 Windermere Road.
The majority of the currently vacant 5.13-acre site is wetlands, 4.56 acres. The current Future Land Use for the property is Rural/Agricultural.
The single-story, 4,200-square-foot veterinarian building with parking is proposed on the front 0.57 upland acres of the property.
Orange County Case Planner Nick Balevich said Orange County’s Environmental Protection Division has reviewed the request.
Based on an Orange County Conservation Area Determination completed Sept. 5, 2022, 4.57 acres of Class II wetlands and 0.57 acres of uplands were identified. A Conservation Area Impact permit application was submitted Nov. 30, 2023, for proposed wetland impacts.
Balevich said an average 50-foot buffer is required, with a minimum 25-foot buffer from the wetlands. Thus, the plan will need to be revised, or a CAI impact permit will be required with mitigation.
The project site also is located within a delineated area of groundwater contamination as defined by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. A Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment will be required to be submitted prior to any plan or permit approvals.
Although the applicant said the project would have minimal impacts on the surrounding community, the site plan proposes raising the area two to three feet above where the property currently is at, which could impact the streamflow.
Residents in the surrounding area expressed worries about flooding, stating when it heavily rains, the nearby houses, sidewalks and roads flood.
Orange County District 1 Commissioner Nicole Wilson lives nearby in the area and expressed concerns with the likely impact on the wetlands.
“We just passed a wetland ordinance that has been a tremendous investment and a lot of work, and it doesn’t go into effect yet,” she said. “I am concerned because this plan is based on the old code and the old assessment and the old buffers. … I’m just very, very concerned that you’re building on a lake.”
Balevich said the parking requirements for a veterinarian clinic are one space per 300 square feet. Thus, this site would require a minimum of 14 spaces. The applicant is proposing 20 spaces with one handicap space.
Balevich said Orange County’s Transportation Planning Division also has reviewed the request and concluded the proposed project is expected to generate 90 net daily trips and 13 net weekday p.m. peak hour trips to the adjacent roadway.
A 210-foot northbound left-turn lane will be required at the project entrance.
In addition, a traffic study may be required of the applicant prior to obtaining an approved capacity encumbrance letter and building permit. The project will be subject to review and approval under capacity constraints of the county’s Transportation Concurrency Management System.
Residents expressed concerns with the impact the development would have on traffic and safety being in such close proximity to the school. They also said they do not need another veterinary clinic with all the ones that exist already in the area and they do not want commercial property in a residential area.
“I am also very concerned about safety,” Wilson said. “No. 1 for me are the children. … I’m asking you just to listen to the concerns of the neighbors here.”
After much feedback from residents, the applicant decided to request to postpone the BZA case and re-evaluate the plans.
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.