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Groveland Council annexes blueberry farm on Lake Catherine for future village development

The conceptual plan for this blueberry farm on Lake Catherine calls for a variety of housing types with mixed-use multifamily buildings along State Road 19 in Groveland.
The conceptual plan for this blueberry farm on Lake Catherine calls for a variety of housing types with mixed-use multifamily buildings along State Road 19 in Groveland. (City of Groveland)

The Groveland City Council voted Monday to annex a blueberry farm on State Road 19 into the city so the owners can realize their vision of creating an agrarian-based mixed-use development over time.

The Council assigned the Village future land use to the 4-parcel assemblage, with three zoning districts contained within the project. The most intense development, zoned for Village Core, would occur on S.R. 19. The intensities would scale down to Village Center, primarily townhomes and cottage homes, and Village Edge, single family detached lots along Lake Catherine.

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The land has been owned and farmed by the Lowe family for generations. Clermont attorney Bret Jones, a longtime family friend of the Lowes, is representing the family and their development firm, The Hamlet Development Group.

“The Lowes realized it’s time to entitle this property in a way that preserves the character of it,” Jones said. They worked closely with city planners to create a conceptual plan that adheres to the city’s new form based code requirements in its comprehensive plan.

Jones said the family intends to maintain their working farm and agritourism business on the bulk of the property, which allows them to keep agricultural tax exemptions in place while they self-develop the Village Core mixed-use section. A developer’s agreement entitles the family to continue its farming and events business, which regularly hosts outdoor musical entertainment and food trucks.

“Right now, they’re not flipping this land,” Jones said. “There is no plan to sell it. The family sees this as a legacy project and wants to maintain the agritourism business.”

The Village Core is envisioned as a pair of 3-story mixed-use buildings, each with 20,000 square feet of retail or commercial space on the ground floor and residential uses on the upper floors.

Groveland's City Council annexed and rezoned this 12.5-acre site at U.S. 27 and the Florida's Turnpike interchange. The Town Core zoning allows the most intense development.
Groveland's City Council annexed and rezoned this 12.5-acre site at U.S. 27 and the Florida's Turnpike interchange. The Town Core zoning allows the most intense development. (City of Groveland)

“The timeline would be about 18 months to start construction on the mixed-use component,” Jones said.

The Lake Catherine Blueberry request was one of three annexation cases on Monday’s agenda. Council members also voted to annex 12.5 acres on U.S. 27 at the Florida’s Turnpike Exit near the Christopher C. Ford Commerce Park. The council assigned a Town future land use and Town Core as the zoning district.

Finally, the council approved an annexation request for 74 acres of the larger Little Everglades Farm that wasn’t already in the city limits. The property on the west side of S.R. 19 and north of the Florida’s Turnpike was formerly known as the Turnpike Commerce Park.

The future land use for the property was set at Village. A representative from LPG Urban & Regional Planning said the owners have no immediate plans to develop the property, but just wanted to bring the unincorporated island into the city.

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

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