Groveland’s City Council stuck to its guns Tuesday night, voting unanimously to deny the hastily redesigned Indigo Lakes Village Planned Unit Development amendment on the site of the former Groveland Mansion.
The council had voted unanimously on Aug. 25 to deny the PUD amendment that would have entitled the 163-acre assemblage for a community of 455 homes, 60,000 square feet of office and commercial space and a public park on the site of the former hilltop mansion.
Sovereign Land Company’s Kyle Sanders told GrowthSpotter his team redesigned the subdivision in response to the concerns voiced by council members about the side-yard setbacks and lot sizes. By introducing a new 55-foot lot size, Sovereign and co-developer Loma Land Co. reduced the total number of dwelling units to 437.
“It’s very, very disappointing,” Sanders said moments after the vote. “We did everything the Planning & Zoning Commission and staff asked us to do.”
The developers had agreed to increase the sideyard setbacks to a minimum of 7.5 feet on 70% of the detached home lots, to regulate on-street parking and to widen the interior trails from 5 feet to 8. They also assured council members that all of the 45-foot and 50-foot lots would be interior to the community.
But none of those changes moved the needle. Councilman Mike Smith criticized the plan for reducing the amount of commercial space and for eliminating multifamily uses from the PUD. Vice Mayor Mike Radzik echoed Smith’s concerns, especially regarding the inclusion of 45-foot lots, which he said “clearly does not make for a charming development.”
Loma Land President Greg Clark told GrowthSpotter he and Sanders would not close on the property without permits, so they will have to evaluate whether to try to develop the site under the terms of the existing 2006 PUD. That ordinance entitles the property for more dwelling units, but 89% of those homes are either attached villa units (44) or townhomes (366).
“We do have underlying development rights," Clark said. "The old PUD is convertible, and there’s no limits for extending it, so we have to look at that strategy and go on.” He said the conversion would still be “mostly single family” with some commercial and, potentially some multifamily.
“It will be structured in a way the city can not legally deny,” he said.
The developers had planned to donate the 4.3-acre hilltop – site of the demolished Groveland Mansion – to the city and build a public park there in exchange for park impact fee credits. That is now off the table, Clark said. “The city park was a concession we made at the request of planning staff. It’s not requirement in the PUD. The city is going to have to go out and buy land now for a park.
In a letter to the council, former Mayor Tim Loucks urged the council to approve the amended PUD, which he said would have improved upon the existing vested rights. He also warned the council that voting to deny the project, would send a message to the development community that working with the city staff to amend outdated PUDs would be a waste of time and money.
Clark said he’s right. The Sovereign/Loma group spent 14 months attempting to amend the Indigo Lake Village PUD. “There’s a dozen or so of these old PUDs that are never going to expire. Anyone who has one will not go the route we did to negotiate with staff," he said.
The property is owned by Indigo Land Groveland LLC, a corporation created by a German investment bank that acquired it through foreclosure. Jon Walls with NAI Realvest represents the owner in the deal with Sovereign/Loma.
“The council’s vote tonight was a surprise after 14 months of the developer working closely with staff on all of the concerns that the city had raised," Walls said. "Now there’s more work that needs to be done towards getting an approval.”
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to correctly identify Kyle Sanders as the developer.