Saying the county needs time to write a set of design guidelines for the stretch of U.S. 192 surrounding the future Judge Farms research park, Osceola County Commissioners voted Monday to enact a 180-day building moratorium for area.
The moratorium could affect several property owners who have projects in pre-construction planning now.
The moratorium applies to the 1,852-acre E192 Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) district. Commissioners said they want to create a "global vision" for the corridor so it develops as an "attractive urban corridor."
As part of its contract, the Perkins+Will team will develop a master plan for the 500-acre research park. One of the final tasks may involve developing a set of design guidelines for the CRA district to complement the research park.
County Manager Don Fisher said he may use one of the planning firms the county has on retention to speed up the design guideline work. "It'll be our goal to get it done faster than 180 days," he said.
The resolution calling for the building moratorium reads that "crucial to its success, and that of the businesses it will attract, is ensuring the quality of development within the East U.S. 192 corridor reflects the quality of the development required within the Research Park."
Mark Cooney, executive vice president of Flagship Companies, said it creates a significant hardship for his firm, which was planning to break ground this summer on a retail center at the corner of U.S. 192 and Fortune Road -- right next to Osceola Heritage Park.
"We're in negotiations with two national branded restaurants that were going to go side by side in one of our buildings," Cooney said. "We wanted to get them both inked before we went in for permits."
Cooney said Flagship was looking to capitalize on the momentum generated by the construction of the FAMRC and a pair of multi-family projects near the FL Turnpike interchange. The developer already built and sold a self-storage facility at Heritage Crossings for $8 million. Cooney said they had already designed the retail center with three single-story buildings.
But that may not fit the "urban design" envisioned for the corridor.
Fisher said if commissioners adopt urban design guidelines without expections or grandfathering property owners, Flagship could be forced to redesign the project.
"It may affect them if they were approaching a project and were going to use conventional design," he said. "In the long term, the benefit is to protect everyone's investment in the corridor."
Commissioner Cheryl Grieb questioned if the moratorium would apply to Summit Contracting Group, the developer of the Madison Crossing senior apartment tower at 2299 E. Irlo Bronson Memorial Hwy. "They're looking to do a second tower," she said.
Fisher said the moratorium would not apply to the 21 building and development applications already in process.
Another project in the CRA district -- the renovation of the former Palms Motel into apartments -- likely wouldn't be affected. "There's an exception for interior renovation," Fisher said.
The ordinance also provides an exemption for exterior repairs and maintenance of existing buildings in the district, and for any existing applications that were submitted before Monday -- as long the project doesn't conflict with the goals of the ordinance.