Osceola County’s planning staff is telling developers to expect significant delays on rezoning applications due to the county’s inability to hold public hearings during the coronavirus pandemic.
The county’s Development Review Committee staff held pre-application meetings Wednesday morning with a number of developers who would need to rezone sites on U.S. 192, Narcoossee Road, Old Vineland Road and in Poinciana for a variety of projects. But while the staff and DRC can process applications, the county has canceled Planning Commission meetings until further notice.
When one applicant asked how long it would take to rezone, Community Development Director Dave Tomek couldn’t give him a definitive answer.
“Right now all bets are off,” Tomek said. “Normally I would say 45-60 days for a rezoning. Now I’d say double or triple it.”
One case that could be impacted would be a rezoning for a multifamily project in the tourism corridor. Architect Daniel Farmer was representing the owner of a 7.2-acre site on Old Vineland Road. Farmer initially submitted a conceptual plan for a two- and three-story garden apartment complex, but he was hoping to increase the density for the client.
The site is just west of Hope Village, a proposed 225-unit multifamily community by Community Hope Center. The nonprofit rezoned its site to CT in 2019.
Tomek encouraged him to seek the Tourist Commercial zoning, which allows up to 80 dwelling units per acre. Based on the advice, Farmer said he would redesign his concept plan and submit it next month. He said the owners wouldn’t be discouraged by the coronavirus-related delays.
“They own the land outright,” Farmer said. “They obviously would like to develop it quicker, but I don’t think an extra six months will be a deal breaker.”
Another development group with plans for three different projects in the county would need rezonings for all three sites. Miami developer Robert Thorne led the team, which included representatives from Jordan Companies, De Sosa Construction and Fifth Dimension Architecture.
They’re eyeing sites on E192, in front of NeoCity, and on the W192 corridor at Bamboo Lane, for a pair of condo hotels.
The 1.7-acre Bamboo Lane property is across the main entrance to Lennar’s Storey Lake Resort community, but Thorne said his project would be sold to investor groups and would target a different demographic.
“Our target market of end users are people under 40 who don’t want to go to hotel because they need two or three rooms and they want to have a kitchen," Thorne said. “And at the same time they don’t want to be a development where they have kids running all over the place when they go to the pool”
They’re looking to do a 150-unit condo tower with retail uses on the ground level, fronting on Old Vineland Road, a small pool and spa and a terrace to view the Disney fireworks. The developer would offer valet service and transportation to the attractions.
Tomek said the property would need to be rezoned to Urban Center Perimiter, but that it would allow the project they describe.
The NeoCity site is 6 acres across from Osceola Heritage Park. Architect Dan Fritts said the group wants to build up to 300 condo hotel units. Tomek said it would need to be rezoned to Employment Center Perimeter, but the density would be capped at 238 units and maximum height would be five stories. He recommended they approach the owner of the adjacent property.
“There are a couple of little pieces next to it that are vacant that if you just bumped yourself up by another couple of acres, you could get your 300 (units),” Tomek said.
The group is also hoping to build a residential townhouse community on Narcoossee Road. They have an 11-acre site under contract with a future land use of Low Density Residential. They had hoped to rezone it to Medium Density Residential, but Tomek said staff would not support the request.
“You can still do a townhome product, you just can’t do more than 8 units per acre,” he said.