Lake County Commissioners on Tuesday unanimously approved a rezoning request for 350 acres across Lake Dalhousie from some of the county’s most expensive homes after the developer revised the application to reduce the number of lakefront lots.
The property on Wiygul Road near Umatilla is on the northeast shore of the lake and has about 1,200 feet of shoreline. The owner has a buyer under contract who is seeking Planned Unit Development zoning to build a gated, 60-lot subdivision of estate homes, with a community park, private boat dock and ramp. The first conceptual plan created 11 lakefront lots that were a minimum of 1-acre, but neighbors and commissioners wanted the developer to reduce the number of lakefront lots to more align with the lot sizes on the west shore of the lake. Commissioners tabled the rezoning on Jan. 26 to give the applicant two weeks to respond to their concerns.
Clermont land use attorney Meredith Nagel submitted a revised application to the county that reduced the number of lakefront lots to nine. She also added language to the ordinance setting the minimum size at 2,500 square feet for lakefront homes. The developer also agreed to add a wood fence along the western boundary of the community where it abuts homes in Lake Dalhousie Estates.
She noted that the request falls below the maximum density of 72 lots that would be allowed for the acreage. The project, Shoreline Estates, received a 5-0 vote from the county’s Planning & Zoning Board, but some county commissioners felt the original vision wasn’t compatible with the upscale area.
“The subdivision that’s adjoining this, Lake Dalhousie Estates, is probably one of the nicest subdivisions in the whole county,” Commissioner Leslie Campione said during the Jan. 26 board meeting. “So I think we’ve got to factor in the reality of the area. I mean, we have to really look at what the development patterns are.”
Lakefront homes in that community typically sell for $1 million or more. Campione and Chairman Sean Parks, who had pressed the other commissioners to delay a vote on the PUD, praised the developer and neighbors for working together to reach a compromise deal.
Nagel said Wicks Engineering revised the conceptual site, moving the community boat dock further east and eliminating a road connection between the two communities.
Parks wanted a clear commitment to keep the roads private so the county wouldn’t have to assume maintenance of them. The revised ordinance included that language.
Commissioner Josh Blake had been prepared to approve the PUD during the Jan. 26 meeting. He withdrew his motion, but disagreed with the demands being made by Parks and Campione. “I think that if this level of scrutiny had been applied before, Lake Dalhousie Estates itself never would have been approved,” he said.
Nagel said the delay was unfair and it would cost her client time and money, and could endanger the sale. One of the homeowners on the west shore of the lake said he had a “backup” contract to buy the 335 acres, if the deal falls apart.
“I would rather have a table than a denial, but I’m telling you when you’re dealing with developers, a table is not just a table,” she said. “It’s real money. It’s real lost opportunity on a contract. It’s a real problem.”
Over the two weeks between board meetings, she met individually with commissioners to be sure she had addressed all of their concerns and demands. She even offered to represent the Lake Dalhousie Estates HOA on a request to abandon the road that was intended to link the two communities.