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Lake County Developments

Developer working with Town of Astatula to manage density on 98-acre subdivision

The Town of Astatula approved the annexation of 98 acres north of Florida Avenue.

A Longwood developer is set to build 157 single-family homes in the Town of Astatula on 98 rural acres north of County Road 48 at the intersection of Fair Street and Morning Glory Way.

But the developers have one more legislative hoop to jump through before the town approves the project.

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Their initial zoning request was to change the property’s zoning from “county rural” to “single-family medium density residential.” The R2 zoning allows higher density than the developers have planned, and the town is asking that the developer come back and apply for rezoning to a Planned Unit Development.

A PUD gives the town better control over the development, according to Town Clerk Graham Wells, because R2 allows for high density.

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“They’re working in conjunction with the town,” Wells said of the developer. “The property is a really good project for the town. We’re very happy with this project because it’s not the density it could be. The issue is what happens if they no longer own the property. A development with R2 zoning means a new developer could increase density immensely. They could build duplexes, which the town does not want. That’s not good for the town. That’s not what we signed up for.

“A new developer could build 200 duplexes under R2, and we would be powerless to stop them.”

Hence the move for a PUD.

There is no apparent timetable for the application to PUD. The plan was withdrawn this week under the R2 zoning so that the new application for the PUD can be filed. Wells said there would likely be no changes to the project from the plan originally submitted.

The developer, Christopher Orlandini of OPP Ventures, refused to comment on any aspect of the project, including its name, when contacted by GrowthSpotter.

The property has already been annexed by the town, a move that raised concerns of the Lake County Board of County Commissioners earlier this year.

Commissioner Leslie Campione, who attended a contentious public meeting about the un-named Astatula project, told the commission earlier this year that an agreement was needed between Lake County and its 14 municipalities to protect rural areas such as the 98-acres in Astatula. She said at the time that municipalities ignore regulations on Rural Protection Areas.

“If we could convince the cities to go into an agreement with the county and they collectively imposed those rules on themselves they would have a response to enforce the RPAs,” she told the commission at a meeting earlier this year. “It’s them choosing to ignore what I think is common sense and good intergovernmental cooperation.”

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The problem, Campione said, is Florida statutes. If the county registered a formal challenge to an annexation such as Astatula’s, “you run the risk of being sued.”

Nevertheless, since Astatula has already annexed the land, the new project can move forward once the PUD is submitted by the developer and approved by the town council. The move from R2 to a PUD would be a potent tool for Astatula to ensure a lower-density development and is consistent with the town’s 2007 Land Development Regulations, which state that “zoning is the single most powerful legal mechanism of an overall urban concept, but it does not fully plan building locations, traffic movement or parklands; it does not create beauty, aesthetic order, or amenity. It is the task of the Town, therefore, to preserve various elements of urban beauty and require that new projects enhance the existing appearance. The plan for achieving beauty must grow out of our special local characteristics.”

Astatula has 2,266 residents, according to 2022 estimates of the U.S. Census. It is located across Little Lake Harris from Howey-in-the-Hills.

Recent developments will cause that population to swell. For example, The Meadows of Astatula, a resident-owned manufactured home community, currently has roughly 60 homes currently for sale.

In addition, GrowthSpotter reported in 2020 that The Mary K. Eddy Trust, working with Jim Stout of TKC Platinum Properties, received approval for a new 60-lot, 51-acre subdivision on Little Lake Harris called Colina del Lago.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at Newsroom@GrowthSpotter.com or (407) 420-6261. Follow GrowthSpotter on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.


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