After years of holding summits and bus tours, the Four Corners Area Council brought in one of the region's top conflict resolution specialists to help it create a unified plan for the booming area that crosses jurisdictional boundaries.
The council has contracted with the University of Central Florida's Institute of Government and GAI Consultants to create a cohesive plan that addresses how the counties can coordinate planning, zoning, transportation and emergency response. The council hosted a workshop Thursday with the W192 Development Authority to get input from business owners and local officials from Lake, Orange, Osceola and Polk counties.
"Today is designed as an exploratory discussion," planner/moderator Rafael Montalvo said. "It's the beginning of a longer process. Our role is to help you have a conversation about the issues facing the Four Corners area."
GAI's Thomas Kohler said that despite the area's exponential growth, little has changed from a regulatory standpoint since the council's first Four Corners study in 2002. There are sections of the W192 corridor where the future land use and zoning for sites right across from each other are completely different based on the jurisdiction.
The four counties can't even agree on the boundaries to define the Four Corners area. One study pegs it as a 91-square-mile area that spans across three Water Management Districts and 10 active or former DRIs. Other studies focus on a more concentrated area along the W192 corridor.
Another issue is the huge discrepancy in impact fees among the counties. Polk County, for example, is seeing a massive influx of new multifamily development after neighboring Osceola County doubled its mobility fees and school impact fees. Some business owners suggested the counties establish a more uniform fee schedule for the region.
"That got my attention," Polk's Assistant County Manager Tom Deardorff told GrowthSpotter. "We're going to be updating our impact fees in 2019. We could look for ways to make it more consistent."
Identifying the boundaries is simply the first phase of the UCF "Four Corners One Vision" study. Following the workshop, Institute of Government faculty will initiate Phase 2, estimated to cost up to $125,000. The goal will be to identify and describe potential entities that might manage the Four Corners Area once it is identified; and to identify funding sources to support the operation of a newly created management entity.
"Is there a multi-jurisdictional super-entity that can be the keeper of the vision?" Montalvo asked.
His team will be tasked with preparing a "road map" for the counties to set policy that implements the vision. The institute will present the final report Oct. 30 at the 2018 Four Corners Summit.
Some Four Corners developers are already pledging to coordinate their efforts, absent a new regulating body. Equinox CEO Ryan Stahl told GrowthSpotter his firm's new mixed-use development, WaterStar Orlando, on W192 would be designed to complement the Key West theming in front of Margaritaville Resort.