As development in Lake Nona and southeast Orlando intensifies along the county line, Osceola Commissioners are beginning to rethink whether to keep a rural enclave along Boggy Creek Road and East Lake Tohopekaliga or encourage the area to follow the same trend as neighbors to the north.
Cori Carpenter, the county’s director of planning and design, presented an initial of potential industrial sites to commissioners during a recent workshop. She outlined multiple scenarios for land use updates on the Boggy Creek corridor that would directly impact homeowners in the neighborhoods, like Semoran Farms, where lot sizes are 5 acres or larger. None of the communities were notified of the study.
“Before we went out and did anything public here, we were trying to receive policy direction from the Commission with regard to all these items that were presented,” County Manager Don Fisher noted.
The study coincides with the county’s plan to start construction next year on widening the 6-mile segment of Boggy Creek from Simpson Road to Narcoossee Road from a two-lane rural road to a four-lane divided roadway with a raised median, dedicated turn lanes and sidewalks.
Fisher said the opening of the Orlando Airport’s new south Terminal C and Brightline, along with Lake Nona’s expansion across the former Poitras property and the new Poinciana Parkway extension will all drive demand for more intense development patterns in Osceola.
“It started with the Disney making the announcement of 2200 jobs moving to the Nona area — some of their facilities being close to where this is located,” Fisher said. “And if you go out there from the (S.R.) 417-Boggy Creek Road intersection area, you got the Publix and other stuff was going on there. But when you start heading south right at the corner of Boggy Creek and Simpson roads, there are high-rise buildings that are happening right at the intersection. And then you step into Osceola and you’ve got a rural enclave, which is an extreme underutilization of the land.”
Meanwhile, Orange County is also the midst of updating its long-term comprehensive plan to shape how the Orlando area should look by the year 2050. One point of focus is a roughly one-mile stretch of Boggy Creek Road between S.R. 417 and the Osceola County line that’s currently being widened from two to four lanes.
The corridor already has a number of multi-family and mixed-use projects either under development or pending approval. Once complete, they’ll bring more than 315,000 square feet of commercial space and more than 2,000 apartment units to an area less than a mile south of Lake Nona. The Orange County study is also looking at how to protect the Kissimmee Farms rural enclave from encroaching development.
The Osceola staff divided its study areas into two parts: Boggy Creek West, which is south of Simpson Road, and Boggy Creek East, which is closer to Narcoossee Road and the Austin Tindall sports complex.
For Boggy Creek West, the staff looked at an 857.5-acre area on both sides of the corridor that includes a 509.6-acre rural enclave and 213 acres with Low Density Residential future land use. Roughly 50 acres of the area is currently approved for commercial or Medium Density Intensity land use.
The staff considered several scenarios. In one, they looked at converting the rural residential land into a Community Center Core (55.8 acres) and Community Center Perimeter (654.2 acres). In other options, they would trade off some of the CC uses for roughly 330 acres of Industrial. A third option introduces 227 acres of LDR along the lake frontage.
“The industrial aggregations meet the minimum of 100 acres which is typical for your small industrial parks,” Carpenter said. “We did find the pros to this would be your proximity to the airport and your interchanges of the 417 and Osceola Parkway, proximity to a large employment base potential increase with individual land value. And with the introduction of Community Center land use, it creates a more consistent land use pattern to the surrounding area.”
The Boggy Creek East study area spanned 600 acres, of which 559 acres are part of a rural enclave. The study looked at introducing 227 acres of Industrial uses on the land north and west of the road, up to the Orange County line. The rest would be reclassified as Community Center. The staff also evaluated two scenarios where they would convert some of the rural enclave to LDR.
Commissioner Ricky Booth pressed the staff to reach out to neighborhood leaders and brief them on the study. He also questioned why the county would consider introducing LDR along the lakefront rather than leave those properties as a rural enclave.
Carter said the LDR actually provides greater protection to the property owner, as long as the county establishes an overlay that allows the larger lot sizes.
“I would really like to not see any movement on that until we have some time to actually interact with the folks in those areas,” Booth said. “I just see some really, really big pushback from the Boggy Creek West area. The east group,I think you might be there with those folks who have stepped up about what the future is in that area.”