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Youth mission camp seeks major expansion in Montverde

The Youth With A Mission master plan would expand the campus to 182 acres and add new lodgings and indoor facilities for worship services, dining and recreation.
The Youth With A Mission master plan would expand the campus to 182 acres and add new lodgings and indoor facilities for worship services, dining and recreation. (LPG Urban & Regional Planners)

A Montverde-based non-denominational Christian missionary organization is set to engage in the first phase of a major 20-year program to renovate, modernize and construct new buildings and facilities on its Lake County campus while adding 16 acres to the campus to accommodate the new facilities.

The expansion of the campus to 182 acres would allow the discipleship organization, Youth with a Mission, to host an additional 300 participants and 100 staff members to add to the current 250 participants and 100 staff members who live, work, train and recreate during 12-week programs that also include youth group sessions that are three to five days long.

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The campus is owned by the non-profit group Four Winds Ecclesia, Inc., of Montverde. The camp runs on a discipleship model where participants are trained and sent out on various assignments around the world. In notes by LPG Urban & Regional Planners, Inc. following a meeting with representatives of Montverde, Lake County and YWAM officials, representatives from the organization said the campus facilities are currently unable to house all of its staff, participants and youth groups.

The Four Winds Youth With A Mission camp is just south of the gated Bella Collina golf community.
The Four Winds Youth With A Mission camp is just south of the gated Bella Collina golf community. (Lake County)

Currently, even church services at the campus cannot be accommodated indoors, said planner Greg Beliveau, CEO of LPG Urban & Regional Planners, Mount Dora.

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“When they do have large gatherings, they have to do it in tents,” Beliveau said. “But they’re so quiet in their location most people don’t even know they’re there.”

The property abuts the Bella Collina development on the north. Bella Collina includes single-family housing, a golf course, condominiums and a hotel. On the south is the Woodlands Lutheran Church campus and to the east is The Gardens of Montverde, an assisted living facility. To the west is a rural residential area that includes Central Florida Communities, Inc. The Town of Montverde abuts the northwest, with the west side of Blackstill Lake Road serving as the town limits.

Youth with a Mission has requested an amendment to the organization’s Community Facility District future land use from Lake County to allow execution of Phase 1 of the modernization. Phase 1 is a five-year plan, but Beliveau said the project should be viewed in the long term.

AR Homes now has the opportunity to build on homesites within Bella Collina or on customer-owned lots throughout the greater Orlando area, including Orange, Seminole and Lake counties.

“This is a 20-year growth plan,” Beliveau said. “It’s not going to happen overnight. They do some phenomenal work, and they send their trainees to some of the most dangerous places in the world.”

Beliveau said the modernized campus will ultimately include a convention center with a separate gated entrance to accommodate business retreats, church services and other events. In addition, a daycare center, staff housing, a formal cafeteria, a small internet café, a building for additional classrooms, an auditorium for church services and two small chapels will be built. An amphitheater is also planned.

The 20-year expansion calls for a student resource center, ten units of staff housing, 250 campsites, 15 cabins and lodges and barns. A bed and breakfast hospitality house is also planned, along with dormitories, bunkhouses, a wedding chapel, caretaker units and RV parking.

Outdoor recreational uses will include additional baseball diamonds, a gymnasium and fieldhouse, pickleball courts, swimming pools, tennis courts and volleyball courts among other items.

The host of Animal Planet's "Treehouse Masters" is one of the backers of the resort, planned along the St. Johns River in northeast Lake County.

Youth with a Mission is asking for an amendment to its current Community Facility District to allow the expansion. Phase 1 includes 250 student dormitory beds, 100 youth beds and 100 staff beds. The project narrative said up to 10 special events will be held each year and up to 2,500 people will be on campus with the expansion.

After public testimony that included neighbor complaints about noise from outdoor activities, the Lake County Planning and Zoning Commission approved the amendment with the provision that outdoor activities, particularly on soccer and baseball fields as well as basketball courts, be limited to 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays and 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. weekends.

Michael Berg, Director of Youth with a Mission, was unavailable for interviews. The cost of the project was unavailable.

The proposal will go before the Board of County Commissioners on December 7.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at Newsroom@GrowthSpotter.com or (407) 420-6261. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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