Osceola Commissioners voted unanimously on Monday to deny a plan that would have more than doubled the number of homes in the final phase of the Marina Bay community on Boggy Creek Road.
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.
Over the course of the last year, Ashton Woods had redesigned the project multiple times – reducing the proposed lot count from the initial request of 494. The developer scaled the project back to 429 lots and doubled the size of the conservation area along the southern boundary. The revised plan also would have eliminated a road connection through the conservation area, replacing it with a mulched trail.
The changes earned the developer support from the county’s Development Review Committee, but Osceola’s Planning Commission voted last month 7-2 to reject the PD amendment.
Ashton Woods entitlements manager Tina Lee and attorney, Jo Thacker, described all of the changes they made to the plan to appease the residents. Lee said the homebuilder held seven different neighborhood meetings.
Osceola County updated its comprehensive plan after the PD was approved, and the 2007 plan no longer meets the minimum standard for low-density residential land use. The county requires residential projects within the LDR zoning and land use build at least 3 units per acre and no more than eight, which would allow for a range between 292 and 780. The Ashton Woods project fell on the lower end, at 4.4 units per acre, and it would have brought the entire Marina Bay project (including the first two phases) into compliance by setting an overall density of 3.26 units per acre.
The plan called for 292 townhomes and 61 rear-alley loaded single family lots on 36-foot lots. Front-loaded single family homes will be built on 45-foot lots (50) and on 60-foot lots (26).
But before Monday’s public hearing even got going, Commissioner Fred Hawkins said he had no intention of approving it. “I know I’m not going to change my opinion. I’m going to make a motion of denial and maybe save a lot of people time.”
Residents who spoke against the project strongly objected to the development of townhomes anywhere close to their neighborhood. They complained that the smaller lot sizes wouldn’t allow for 3-car garages. They also complained about traffic congestion on Boggy Creek Road, which is scheduled to be widened to four lanes in 2024.