Lake County Developments

Changes to Lake Saunders Groves move on to Fruitland Park City Commission for approval

Changes proposed for the Lake Saunders Groves Planned Unit Development in Fruitland Park are designed to modernize the project for today’s market, according to the developer.

The proposed changes, which include a density reduction and elimination of apartments, breezed through the Planning & Zoning Board April 21 with no objections. First reading of the amendments is scheduled to go before the Fruitland Park City Commission Thursday, with the public hearing scheduled on May 12.


The proposed subdivision would rise on 135 acres just west of the Phillips Buick-GMC dealership on U.S. 27 and between Lake Ella and Spring Lake roads. The applicant is seeking changes to the project based on market conditions, said Tara Tedrow, land use attorney with Lowndes.

The revised Lake Saunders Groves PUD in Fruitland Park would have 420 homes, with a near-even split of townhomes and detached homes.

Among the changes the applicant is seeking are:

  • Reduction in density from 542 to 420 units
  • Eliminating the potential for multi-family apartments
  • Allowing 50-foot and 60-foot lots for single-family homes
  • Allowing 20-foot and 22-foot townhome lots
  • Reducing the phasing from five to two
  • Remove a condition that would require the project to connect to U.S. 27 along the south property line of the car dealership.
  • Allowing for temporary irrigation wells until the city’s reuse water system is available.

Applicant Rich Thometz, president of Hailey Development and BurnBrae Companies, said the PUD was first approved in the mid-2000s and the market has changed since then. The City of Fruitland Park and Lake County have also made some decisions that will play into the community’s fresh look, he said. Lake Saunders Groves will interconnect with the county’s master-planned trail system if plans for that system move forward. The developer will dedicate a 15-foot pedestrian and bike trail along the entire eastern boundary of the property.

“The second part of these changes was to better align the product to a more modern product mix,” Thometz said. “Townhomes, as opposed to multi-family assisted living.”

The density would also be reduced with a mix of approximately 55% single-family detached homes and 45% attached townhomes. “We will also have more diversity of product with both 50-foot and 60-foot widths for the single-family homes,” he said.

“We are designing it around two small lakes to really incorporate and take advantage of the view,” Thometz said.

At present, the PUD calls for minimum lot sizes of 60 feet. The applicant wishes to downsize those lots from 8,500- to 6,000 square feet and is requesting that in lieu of a 40% maximum building coverage for single-family lots, a 65% impervious surface ratio be applied.

The plan submitted by HALFF calls for 112 50-foot lots, 118 60-foot lots and 190 20- and 22-foot townhome lots.

The city staff is recommending approval of the PUD amendment and is further recommending continued coordination with the city and Lake County Public Works on all proposed roadways connected to the project.

The developer would be required to build oversized utility lines to accommodate future development, but the added expense of the utility infrastructure can be recouped with impact fee credits.


The project will be constructed west of U.S. 27/441 atop what was once an orange grove. It is already surrounded by a mix of retail and commercial uses on the east and a mix of older and newer residential to the north and south.

BurnBrea Companies and Hailey Development have built other projects in Orange, Polk and Lake counties, including the Lakeside Forest development in Tavares on Lake Harris and Bridle Path in Apopka.

Thometz said the architectural plans for the new development will be designed once the PUD amendments are in place. He declined to reveal price points for the homes.

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