Tavistock clears Sunbridge hurdles with Orange County BCC approval

Tavistock Development Company cleared its biggest hurdle yet on Tuesday for the 4,787-acre Orange County portion of its proposed Sunbridge community, earning commissioners' unanimous approval on a Comprehensive Plan amendment, and components including a Future Land Use Map change, Urban Growth Boundary change and rezoning.

The property in southeast Orange will serve as the northern half of Sunbridge, a phased community to span 37 square miles of Orange and northeast Osceola County, covering 24,000 acres of Mormon Church ranch land. 

The rezoning application included a final Planned Development–Regulating Plan (PD-RP), which details how the mixed-use development would be built over a decade or more.

Looking ahead, Tavistock now has infrastructure-related processes to work through in Orange County. Those include a preliminary design study on the main North-South roadway (Sunbridge Parkway), which involves a detailed analysis of the road's center line, environmental and stormwater management issues, said Richard Levey, a Tavistock consultant who has worked on Sunbridge's entitlements planning. 

The developer must also enter agreements with the county that set the terms and conditions on which Sunbridge Parkway can be built, the land dedicated to the county for road and stormwater facilities, and impact fee credits. 

Commissioners added a condition to their approval for a park development agreement between the county and Tavistock. They'll have to work jointly to fund and develop the park space, with commissioners wanting to advance their role beyond just the land acquisition and timing, and have approval over phasing and development of the park. 

Previous agreements required before the Tuesday meeting were finalized in recent weeks, including those for three public school sites (two middle, one elementary), the Adequate Public Facilities (APF) agreement with road Right-of-Way value estimates, valuations for dedicating sites for a park and fire/EMS station, and valuation for a reclaimed water utility easement. 

Construction on the new SR 528 interchange directly north of the Sunbridge property is underway and expected to be complete in Second Quarter 2018. Tavistock's goal remains to have model homes ready at the northern end of Sunbridge when that exit opens. 

Roughly 10-20 percent of Sunbridge's entitlements, primarily residential, will be the focus of Phase 1 when construction starts in 2018.

An east-west road connectivity agreement with owners of the neighboring Camino Reale property, Canadian developer DG Group, has not been reached yet because that property owner has not finished its own traffic study, Levey said. 

DG Group has revived dormant plans for 1,033 acres known as Camino Reale, filing its own PD-RP in early August that proposes another mixed-use community. 

In late August, Tavistock revised its PD-RP to include roadway connections to the Camino Reale property. 

"We were approved (Tuesday) for a roadway term sheet," Levey said. "We continue to stand ready to negotiate in good faith with (DG Group), but that's difficult to do when they have not gone through the normal process to provide data and analysis to understand the traffic impact they'll have." 

A date to finalize purchase of the 4,787 acres in Orange County from the Mormon church has not been determined yet, Levey said. 

A highlight of the BCC meeting was a signed agreement with the Lake Mary Jane Alliance, and the group's letter of support for Sunbridge following two years of negotiations with the developer. 

The Lake Mary Jane Alliance includes property owners from 570 homes within the seven mile-long Lake Mary Jane rural settlement. The grassroots organization took shape 11 years ago, when the land now planned for Sunbridge was targeted for a project named Magnolia Ranch. Those plans were denied by public officials, as was the Innovation Way East project that followed. 

"Tavistock has been very good at working with us, and started informing us of their plans several years ago," said Suzanne Arnold, spokeswoman for the group. "They respected what we had been fighting for." 

The Alliance was assured by Tavistock there would be no new road access to their community from the Sunbridge development, an agreement they put down in writing with the help of an attorney.

"We're still working with Tavistock on wildlife corridors as they come up in the future," Arnold said. "We've established a good working relationship, and have a legal document to back it all up." 

In Osceola County, Tavistock filed a 30-page rezoning application in late September for the 19,000 acres of Sunbridge in that county. 

The developer is not as far along in Osceola, and remains in the early stage of discussions with county officials on how to modify existing entitlements for that property, Levey said. 

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at bmoser@growthspotter.com, (407) 420-5685 or @bobmoser333. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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