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Osceola County is about to kick off the master planning process for the areas shaded in gray, which have a Mixed-Use District future land use. Together, they comprise over 10,000 acres.
Osceola County is about to kick off the master planning process for the areas shaded in gray, which have a Mixed-Use District future land use. Together, they comprise over 10,000 acres. (Osceola County)

Osceola County is gearing up for the start of a year-long effort to master plan the last major mixed-use district in the county’s Urban Growth Boundary.

County Commissioners on Monday approved a $124,800 contract with Kissimmee-based Rj Whidden & Associates to develop a Conceptual Master Plan (CMP) for the mostly undeveloped acreage between St. Cloud and Harmony, which includes the eastern shore of Alligator Lake.

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Rj Whidden is the same firm that assisted the county with the East Lake Toho and South Lake Toho District elements in its Comprehensive Plan a decade ago. At the time, the county postponed planning for the areas that were identified as Mixed-Use Districts 5 and 6. Combined, the Districts encompass approximately 10,657 acres.

“The area we’re talking about, the Conceptual Master Plans were never developed,” Bob Whidden told GrowthSpotter. “They were saved for a later time.”

Now county planners are looking to combine those into a single district and proceed with the conceptual planning to get out ahead of future development, Whidden said. Because the future land use is the same -- mixed-use -- the consultants already know what uses to include. It’s just a matter of fitting the puzzle pieces together in a way that makes sense.

“The CMP lays out all of the intensities and densities, and how the transportation corridors should function and work, and what the place types are,” he said. “That’s basically a big idea of what can happen, but it’s not based on perfect information, because you haven’t surveyed every wetland.”

As developers prepare to activate projects within the Mixed-Use Districts, they must file more detailed Concept Plans. Sunbridge and Tohoqua are two examples of master-planned developments that have approved concept plans. BTI Partners has submitted a concept plan for Edgewater, which is in the East Lake Toho element.

A few projects that fall within in the study area are already in the permitting process. Those include the AmeraTrail employment center at U.S. 192 and Old Melbourne Highway and the Pine Glen mixed-use project across from Harmony West.

One of the firm’s first major tasks will be to narrow down the scope of the project, reducing the planning area by about half to create a base map as a starting point.

“There’s no fixed boundary yet,” Whidden said. “Those boundaries on the Future Land Use Plan are fixed, but the portions we’re going to deal with are not.”

Once the base map is accepted, the consults will prepare up to five CMP alternatives, using data from existing wetlands, proposed roadways, wildlife corridors, flood maps, areas suitable for future development and potential alignments for the future NE Expressway, a planned toll road linking the Florida’s Turnpike with Sunbridge. Areas along the shore of Alligator Lake are also subject to development restrictions the county adopted in 2017.

All along the way, there will be a series of community meetings and stakeholder workshops to get feedback from the public, land owners and staff.

Once the final master plan is adopted by the Board of Commissioners, Rj Whidden will prepare the documentation to submit a large-scale Comprehensive Plan Amendment to codify the plan.

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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