Cypress Reserve, a 673-home development proposed on the edge of the Green Swamp, is moving ahead, having received preliminary plat approval and developer’s agreement approval.
The Groveland City Council unanimously moved the development steps closer to reality in December 2022, despite concerns over the traffic it will create and the impacts it might have on the region’s freshwater supply and wildlife.
The 486-acre project site is located on the south side of State Road 50, west of Max Hooks Road, and north and east of Montevista Road. It has a Future Land Use designation of Established Neighborhood and zoning designation of Planned Unit Development (PUD).
Richland Communities, a major player in the Central Florida real estate business, is the developer. It assembled 13 properties for the project in 2018 for $6.1 million.
City council members admitted they did not like the location of such a dense development so close to the Green Swamp, but said their hands were tied since a previous city council approved a PUD for the property in 2016.
The state designated a section of the Green Swamp an “Area of Critical Concern” in 1974 due to its vulnerability to rapid development and its importance as a water source for the entire region.
The city council also declined to force the developer to re-do a traffic analysis done during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when traffic was 47% lighter across Florida. City staff said the developer has agreed to enough infrastructure work to offset the traffic issue.
This project dates to the early 2000s, when a previous city council approved a PUD for the site. That PUD was modified in 2016 to allow for 737 homesites at 2.8 homes per acre. Richland has since agreed to cut the number of houses to 673, dropping to 2.56 homes per acre. The developer also increased the project’s open space from 67.8% to 70.7%. The plan calls for 607 single-family homes and 66 townhome units.
The 50-foot lots were reduced from 567 to 528. The 65-foot lots were reduced from 104 to 79. There is no reduction in the number of townhomes.
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Community Development Director Tim Maslow said that kind of density won’t happen again in the Green Swamp. Surrounding properties allow for only one unit per five acres or one unit for 20 acres.
“Conservation is a big part of our strategic plan, and our branding is now ‘a city with natural charm.’ Setting aside land, especially land of critical state concern, is a big priority for us,” Maslow said.
He said the city offered to give Richland development rights elsewhere if it would agree to move the project away from the Green Swamp. Maslow said Richland declined that offer.
A traffic study conducted by TMC, of Orlando, states that at buildout in 2026, the development would generate a total of 6,561 daily trips, 526 of which would occur during the AM peak hours and 686 trips in the PM peak hours.
Already, the report stated, the Florida Department of Transportation has funded design plans for a new four-lane truck route realignment of State Road 50 around Groveland. There is also a funded planning study for SR 50 from 12th Street and County Road 561 to Bloxom Avenue in Clermont. But neither has construction funding at this point.
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A two-way stop is proposed at Max Hooks Road and SR 50, which the traffic analysis determined could handle the added capacity from the development.
Some citizens disagreed and beseeched the city to require a new traffic study since the TMC study was conducted during the peak of COVID.
Richland Communities Vice President Matt Young did not return phone calls for comment on this matter.
Groveland Transportation and Public Works Director T.J. Fish told the city council there would be no real benefit to conducting another traffic study since the developer has already agreed to infrastructure improvements to help offset the development’s impact.
Those improvements include rebuilding Max Hooks Road and Lake County turning it over to the city, adding additional turn lanes onto SR 50 and adding sidewalks, trails and landscaping, county staff said.
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