Mount Dora approves design standards for new home construction

GrowthSpotter contributor

In a move to make future development in Mount Dora align with the historic city’s architecture and live up to its “Someplace Special” moniker, the City Council preliminarily approved design standards Tuesday for development in the Wolf Branch district on the east side of US 441, a likely location for future development.

The design standards have roots in the early 20th century when Mount Dora began to grow.

One council member commented that the various home designs samples look a lot like the city’s current historic districts, with a variety of historic home designs with smaller lots and garages that don’t dominate the homes’ front facades. At least three trees would be required for every home and various home styles and trim treatments would be used to keep the community from looking monotonous.

The city is looking for styles such as Frame Vernacular, Bungalow, Colonial Revival, Tuscan, Mediterranean revival, Mission, Florida Cracker and Coastal Cottage.

The subject of extra cost for construction and strains on affordability was broached but not discussed. The city's Planning and Zoning Commission made several revisions to the ordinance in October to make it less restrictive after members raised concerns about topics such as setbacks, window sizes and architectural styles. 

Styles not encouraged include Modern contemporary, Modern Ranch. The guidelines are anti two-story soaring entrances. The use of stucco and stacked-stone on home exteriors is also restricted.

The Council approved the design standards on first reading. Another vote is planned to finalize the plans on Dec. 3.

Mount Dora isn’t the only place where cities are exercising more control over how their cities look.

Greater Orlando Builders Association spokesman Raleigh Steinhauer points out that Horizon West is planning more stringent design standards as well.

“More variety can also have some additional costs,” Steinhauer said. “I know some of our larger builders are concerned moving forward. Subdivisions are years and years in the making, so anytime you have a change to long-form plans it will affect whether a project is feasible.”

Scott Johnston, vice president of land development for Park Square Homes said he is concerned that the extra design standards could make homes unaffordable.

“Once you get above a threshold of about $350,000 [in Mount Dora] you top out buyers,” he said. 

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