The owners of nearly 460 acres of citrus groves and tree nurseries are prepping to develop their lakefront property north of Eustis into a master-planned community anchored by a large retirement community with its own main street district and marina on Lake Yale.
William “Bill” Ray, an environmental and planning professional, who heads Ray and Associates, is representing the May and Whitaker Family Partnership LTD and James Watson (Quality by Design) in the application for a comprehensive plan amendment and rezoning. The plans submitted in late November call for a 1,600-unit master-planned community with 450 units of multi-generational housing, 1,150 active adult homes and 100,000 square feet of commercial. The project would also include a main street district and waterfront activity center.
The first zoning package submitted in mid-2022 made called for 1,600 homes without age restrictions to be built over six phases. The proposal was changed to focus the bulk of the development on the active adult component after receiving feedback from county planning staff on the initial plan. The 10 acres of commercial core uses also were added and the project was divided into eight phases. The revised plan is under review, and there is no date yet for a public hearing.
“We are just waiting to hear back from staff,” said James Whitaker, with the family partnership. “We are just getting started. We have no date yet for going before the county commission.”
The owners are asking for the CPA to change the future land use from Rural Transition to Urban Low. May said that having a single consistent future land use allows the property to be developed as a well-planned project and not a segmented parcel-by-parcel approach.
They also want to rezone the property from R-1, R-2 A to Planned Unit Development. HALFF is the consulting engineer, and Traffic Mobility Consultants submitted a traffic analysis.
The property is in northern Lake County, northwest of the City of Eustis, north of County Road 452. The 4,000-acre Lake Yale is to its north. The land, an assemblage of 35 separate parcels, is currently being used as a citrus grove, blueberry farm and pasture for grazing cattle. It is surrounded by agriculture and medium and low-density residential.
The Whitaker family proposes to develop on 207 of its 458.4 acres of agricultural land, but all the property would be rezoned. In addition to the main street district and activity center, plans call for a marina, active recreational facilities, multi-modal streets, central utilities, and trails, along with public parks and civic amenities. The density for the project would be 3.5 units per acre.
The project was submitted under the name Grand Isle Residences and the Lake Yale PUD and would be constructed in eight phases. The non-age-restricted community would be developed in Phases 1 and 2, beginning with the parcels on C.R. 452 across from the Windy Ridge subdivision. The marina is slated for Phase 3, according to the submitted plan.
[ RELATED: Kolter Homes finalizing plans for retirement community on Lake Harris ]
The applicants propose to use Traditional Neighborhood Design principles “to the greatest extent practicable.” The streets would be publicly owned and maintained using various financing instruments, including Community Development District, or CDD, MSTU, a special taxing district, and MSBU, also a special taxing district.
The proposed Future Land Use yields up to 1,826 residential units, but the project would be limited under the PUD to 1,600 dwelling units and 100,000 square feet of commercial, which would include the lakefront activity center and the Main Street District. The project would include 25% open space on 113.75 acres. That would include trails and sidewalks.
“The community will provide exceptional views of Lake Yale with the protection of natural resources identified on site,” according to a report submitted to the county.
Residential units in the Neighborhood Core could include multifamily building up to four stories in height, and a mix of detached single-family homes, built-for-rent homes, townhomes, and attached villas. All of the same uses — except for apartment buildings — are permitted in the Neighborhood Proper areas. The Neighborhood Edge zones would only allow detached single-family homes.
One interesting feature of the project is the requirements that homeowners use bear-resistant garbage carts or modified garbage carts to exclude bears. They would not be allowed to have bird and wildlife feeders unless modified to exclude bears. The project is located within the state’s known Florida Black Bear habitat.
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