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Wellness Way moves closer to development

Lake County has approved a plan for development on a huge chunk of land in Southeast Lake County on Orange County's border.
Lake County has approved a plan for development on a huge chunk of land in Southeast Lake County on Orange County's border.

Lake County commissioners approved a development plan for a 16,200-acre, 25.28-square mile chunk of southeast Lake County this week. The next step for the sector plan, dubbed Wellness Way, is a trip to back to the state for what developers hope is a cursory review.

"The state has a certain amount of time to look at it and see if they have any comments," said Jim Karr, one of a couple dozen land owners in the area who contributed $175,000 to create the plan that will dictate the development in southeast Lake County right up to the county line of Horizon West in Orange County.

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After the plan comes back from the state in what Karr hopes is 50 or 60 days, land owners can start proposing more detailed plans for specific parcels within the plan.

"I can tell you that our group (about a couple dozen investors) will be moving forward" with plans, Karr said.  "We are all excited about it."

Karr said the group owns 1,400 acres and half interest in another 300 under the name of South Lake Crossing, 1,2, and 3. Lake County Property records shows the land as mostly pastureland south of Clermont, east of U.S. 27 southeast of Lake Louisa and aligned along Shell Pond Road.

"It's a pretty big piece, a nice piece to do planning on," said Karr.

If all goes as planned, Karr predicts some ground breakings in 18 to 24 months.

Karr was involved in the creation of Horizon West, an even larger development in Orange County at 38,000 acres. He has applied what he has learned from that gigantic development to Wellness Way.

Wellness Way will have a bit more focus on designating more land for commercial uses to create jobs, rather than residential, a contrast to Horizon West's focus on rooftops. The plan estimates 26,839 jobs would be created in the area.

Karr says the homes in Wellness Way will be more diverse in architectural styles and sizes than Horizon West.

"We want bigger, smaller, and different architectural styles" than are found in Horizon West, Karr told GrowthSpotter a few months ago. "You've got to leave the plan flexible enough to accommodate that."

The Wellness Way land is sparsely populated. Most is owned by large land holders, some are former citrus growers, others have different agricultural pursuits. The City of Orlando and Orange County jointly own the largest tract of land in planning area where they inject highly treated sewage effluent into the Floridan aquifer near the Green Swamp.

There are currently only two small subdivisions in the area.

The land is directly in the path of future growth, which is already beginning to encroach from the north by Clermont's exploding population and from the south as well.

tburney@growthspotter.com or 407-420 6261

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