Osceola Commissioners may have the three votes needed to implement costly new architectural standards for all new home construction across the county, based on discussions Monday during a board workshop.
Ray Stangle, the county’s community development administrator, presented the revised ordinance draft that would set strict guidelines intended to elevate the quality of new homes being built in the county. The staff had recommended limiting the new standards to mixed-use districts, but commissioners had other ideas.
“I guess I think this is so good for this that I think this should be implemented across the county for anything that doesn’t have a building permit,” Chairman Brandon Arrington said. “I think everything should have standards for the entire county that we want the new developments throughout the county. So I guess I’m hoping that we will have as a Board to take this across the table.”
Commissioners Viviana Janer and Cheryle Grieb asked for more information on the projected cost of implementing the standards and options for allowing flexibility for affordable housing.
But Commissioner Ricky Booth said he was less concerned with the short-term cost to builders than with the long-term value of homes built in Osceola. “I’m totally on board with going countywide on this,” Booth said.
After a series of meetings with some of the region’s most prolific homebuilders, Osceola staff scaled back some of the recommendations in the ordinance, which has already been attached as a condition on five developments located in mixed-use districts.
The Greater Orlando Builders Association tabbed the projected cost of implementing the initial standards at $40,000 per home.
“These onerous, arbitrary, and often conflicting and unworkable new design and architectural standards are not being driven by market dynamics, customer choice or demand,” GOBA legislative director Raleigh Steinhauer said. “But instead, are being mandated by the design whims and preferences of others, who will neither live with nor be forced to foot the bill for them. We strongly urge the County to reconsider moving forward with these costly and unnecessary new requirements.”
Staff did walk back some of the provisions, including one that would have prohibited double-wide garage doors on homes with 50-foot lots, after pushback from the county’s Growth Management Task Force.
“We’re looking for the garage not to be the prominent feature on the front of the house,” Stangle said.
Instead, the draft ordinance allows a compromise suggested by the task force — that double doors be permitted if they are enhanced with coach lights on each side and decorative trim. Commissioners asked that garage doors with windows be added as an option for meeting the standard. For any home design with a three-car garage, the third door must be recessed at least two feet behind the other two.
The revised draft also reduces the minimum size for roof eaves and soffits from 16 inches to 12 inches after several homebuilders complained that the larger size wasn’t the industry standard and would have required them to use custom-built roof trusses.
“The builders showed us some examples of homes with 12-inch eaves, and we liked what we saw,” Stangle said.
But it kept the most controversial rule that prohibits townhomes with front-facing garages. The new standards also would redefine any building with attached units as a “row home” and cap the number of units at eight. It also would require a variety of exterior facades with different paint colors and materials.
Heather Isaacs, vice president of land development for Taylor Morrison, said the front-loaded townhomes are the most affordable product they offer, and prohibiting them would limit the availability of attainable housing. Rear-loaded townhomes are more expensive to build, and they don’t yield the same amount of units per acre as front-loaded units.
“I think that if the standards are applied countywide that I think there’s going to be a lot of concern from the home building industry, specifically,” she said at the workshop. “Especially when you start looking at national and larger home builders that work off of a regionalized product lineup. You know, in order for us to overcome some of the challenges we’ve had with the supply chains is the house we build here’s the house we build in Tampa, so that we can have economies of scale when we go out and purchase materials and make sure that we’ve got the materials that we need.”
County Commissioners already attached the draft language as conditions on five subdivision projects with a combined 2,006 lots at their May 16 meeting.
- Lake Gentry Landings, a 719-unit mixed-use community with a marina that is under contract to Mattamy Homes.
- Hickory Village at Lake Gentry: a 554-unit mixed-use development by Resibuilt, an Atlanta-based developer specializing in purpose-built rental communities
- Canoe Creek Reserve: a 733-home subdivision on Fanny Bass Road by developer Robert Zlatkiss. Two homebuilders, Taylor Morrison and KB Homes are reportedly under contract for those lots.
- Providence Pass: a 6-acre parcel on Clay Whaley Road that abuts the CrossPrarie mixed-use district already in development. It is approved for 60 lots.
- Whaley Platt: a 750-acre subdivision recently purchased by Tampa-based Metro Development. The community is approved for total of 2,818 homes and will be home to Central Florida’s first public access Crystal Lagoon.
Stangle said that based on the commissioners’ direction, any project within the county’s urban growth boundary would be subject to the rules — even if the developer already has an approved planned development or preliminary subdivision plan, if they seek to make any changes to the PSP.
One exception would be BTI Partners’ Crossprairie project, which was part of the Edgewater DRI, because it has applied for annexation into the City of St. Cloud.