A long-time Central Florida farming family plans on selling land near the bustling Alafaya Trail-West Mitchell Hammock Road intersection in Oviedo to a commercial developer.
Clonts Farms Inc., headed by W. Rex Clonts Jr., is working with Oviedo city planners on rezoning 2.76 acres from residential to office-commercial at Clonts Street and South Lake Jessup Avenue. The land is vacant, but a commercial developer is interested in the property, Clonts said.
“Right now the future land use is not compatible with the zoning so we can’t do anything with that property,” he told GrowthSpotter on Monday. “The zoning change will allow us to use that part of it for a potential commercial development.”
The rezoning application will probably go before the local planning agency in coming weeks, Clonts said.
The property is just north of Mitchell Hammock Road and west of Alafaya Trail, an area that has seen a lot of commercial development in recent years.
“There’s a lot happening at that intersection,” Clonts said, “and even though this property doesn’t front on one of those, it’s on the first block (away).”
The developer, who Clonts declined to name, is interested in a larger area than just the Clonts Farms property for the future project.
“There is definitely going to be a development, including more than just this parcel,” said Bob Ziegenfuss, owner of Z Development Services, an Orlando civil engineering firm working for the developer. “It would be included in a larger project that (the developer) is working on in that area.”
Axel Real Estate of Oviedo is the broker handling the sale for Clonts Farms.
Since the late 1940s,Clonts Farms inZellwood has producedClonts Pride celery, Bright Eyes carrots and sweet corn on hundreds of acres of farmland in northwest Orange County. The family also grows juice oranges on more than 200 acres of citrus groves nearOviedo.
In June, GrowthSpotter reported that Clonts Groves Inc. was putting up for sale 721 acres in Lake County that sits in the middle of the proposed town center of the Wellness Way sector plan.
The plan, which encompasses 25.28 square miles, is a controversial blueprint for growth in South Lake that is supposed to spur economic development while protecting the environment. Some critics, however, say the plan benefits only big landowners and would damage a critical water recharge area.
Clonts said the family decided to sell the Lake County land because the orange groves there have been decimated by citrus greening disease.
“We’ve got other land that will remain in agriculture,” Clonts said, “but the Lake County grove property will, I’m sure, sell for development at some time in the future.”
Clonts is the son of William Rexford Clonts and Thelma Lee Clonts. His father came to the Oviedo area from Georgia in 1937 when he was a child. Thelma Lee Clonts was born in Oviedo. Her family was also involved in farming.
The senior Clonts, who died in December 1999, spent most of his life building and operating a sprawling agricultural operation near Zellwood and Oviedo with his father and sons.
According to her husband’s obituary in the Orlando Sentinel, Thelma Lee Clonts once said the family grew five things, “Carrots, corn, celery, citrus and little Clonts.”
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