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Osceola County planners recommended denial for this proposed 494-home subdivision on Boggy Creek Road, which included a mix of single family homes and townhomes with a public marina on East Lake Tohopekaliga.
Osceola County planners recommended denial for this proposed 494-home subdivision on Boggy Creek Road, which included a mix of single family homes and townhomes with a public marina on East Lake Tohopekaliga. (Bonnett Design Group)

Homebuilder Ashton Woods will go back to the drawing board to redesign an proposed 494-home subdivision on Boggy Creek Road after Osceola County’s Planning, Zoning and Transportation staff recommended denying the project.

The builder has a contract for 97.5 acres directly across from Tohopekaliga High School and just west of Austin-Tindall Regional Park. The property is a former “fish camp” RV park and public marina and is the final phase of the Marina Bay Planned Development, which was approved in 2007. The first two phases, with 251 homes on 70-foot lots, have already been built. The fish-camp parcel was entitled for another 171 homes, also on 70-foot lots.

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Ashton Woods wants to rename the community The Pointe at Lakeside and increase the approved density for the final phase units to nearly 500 units.

The planned 494-home subdivision would be the final phase of Marina Bay, a Planned Development that was first approved in 2007. It's across from Tohopekaliga High School on Boggy Creek Road.
The planned 494-home subdivision would be the final phase of Marina Bay, a Planned Development that was first approved in 2007. It's across from Tohopekaliga High School on Boggy Creek Road. (Appien Engineering)

The county staff didn’t object to the increase in density because it meets the current criteria for Low Density Residential land use. But they said the project lacked the enhancements that are typically demanded for Planned Developments.

“Greater ingenuity and imagination was not provided in this request,” Project Planner Mandy Warwick wrote. “It does not demonstrate any originality or creativity.”

The project was panned by the DRC last year during a pre-application meeting, leading Appian Engineering revise the site plan. The plan offers three housing product types, with front and rear-entry single family detached homes and rear-entry townhomes. The developer also widened the lots around the perimeter of the neighborhood – the ones backing up to existing homes – from 50 to 60 feet.

But staff felt the minimum requirements weren’t enough for the PD zoning and requested additional product types, including side-entry corner units, multi-generational housing units or homes with accessory dwelling units. “This may also be included as a condition of approval,” staff wrote.

This conceptual plan shows the proposed public marina, fishing dock and boat ramp on East Lake Toho. There's also parking spaces for two food trucks. A gated section, open to homeowners, includes a swimming pool, volleyball court, tot lot and community building.
This conceptual plan shows the proposed public marina, fishing dock and boat ramp on East Lake Toho. There's also parking spaces for two food trucks. A gated section, open to homeowners, includes a swimming pool, volleyball court, tot lot and community building. (Appian Engineering)

The staff also wanted additional architectural features on the 45-foot lot homes, which could include paver driveways, front porches and/or garages set back from the front facade. The rear-entry homes are on 36-foot lots and the townhome units are each 20 feet wide. All homes, including townhomes, will have a 2-car garage.

The staff comments could be described as harsh.

“This planned development does not function as integrated units. This Planned Development does not provide a high quality living and/or working environment. It is not pedestrian and bicycle friendly. It is not environmentally sensitive. It does not appear visually pleasing to the community. It does not contain adequate recreation and functional open space.”

Jo Thacker, a partner with Nelson Mullins represent Ashton Woods. She told GrowthSpotter the project would be redesigned and resubmitted with the plan to bring it back to DRC in on Dec. 11 with a public hearing scheduled during the Dec. 19 Planning Commission meeting. It goes to the Board of County Commissioners on Jan. 13, 2020.

Thacker and the development team ironed out most of the issues during a lengthy meeting with county staff. Ashton Woods officials could not be reached for comment.

According to the plan, Ashton Woods agreed to build a 5-foot landscape buffer and wall between the new development and existing homes to the south. County staff said the developer needs to enhance the buffer and build a sidewalk along Nele Road, the signalized intersection that also serves as the main entrance to Tohopekalga High School.

The vote capped a two-year negotiation for the property after the seller rejected the county's first two offers.

The neighborhood would have three access points from Boggy Creek Road, including Nele Road and Holiday Woods Road, which may also warrant a signal study. The existing Fish Camp Road would be abandoned and a new entrance road would be shifted about 30 feet to the east to provide better spacing between that road and Nele.

Traffic was a major concern raised by residents during a community meeting in October. Thacker said Boggy Creek is scheduled to be widened to four lanes by 2025.

The project would be build in two phases, with about 300 units planned in Phase 1. The master plan also calls for replacing the public marina with an HOA-owned boat ramp and slips that will be open to the public and park with boardwalk, tot lot, restroom facilities and designated food truck parking spaces. Residents of the community would have keycard access to a gated section, where the pool and clubhouse are located. A ¾-acre dog park is situated at the northeast corner of the neighborhood, south of the traffic circle, and a linear park divides the main portion of the townhouse community, continuing with a trail that surrounds the 13.5-acre pond in the center of the community.

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The homebuilder is about to run out of lots in the Narcoossee corridor, so it scored two more projects with entitlements in place. 

Osceola staff still felt the recreational amenities were lacking, and they said plan didn’t provide enough detail about the marina, ie. number of boat slips, or food trucks. The zoning staff said the developer may have to apply for a Conditional Use permit for both uses. They also recommended adding recreational features and buffering that exceeds the minimum requirement for Low Density Residential zoning. Those could include bike stations, benches, water fountains, new homes with fronts facing existing roads, lots along the perimeter being larger and more consistent with adjacent developments, principal dwellings having larger setbacks along the perimeter, wider buffers with enhanced plantings along the Planned Development (PD) perimeters.

Bonnett Design Group was recently added to the development team as landscape architect and will be involved in designing the amenity areas.

The land was previously under contract to Pulte Home, but that builder ultimately bailed on the project. In 2017 Pulte acquired the 70-acre site just west of Marina Bay and is currently developing a 221-lot subdivision there.

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

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