After two community meetings and a major redesign, Osceola County's Development Review Committee has signed off on a PD rezoning and Comprehensive Plan Amendment (CPA) for a former 98-acre orange grove just outside of St. Cloud.
The Murrell family, which previously operated the grove, owns four parcels on Big Sky Boulevard, just north of E192. Robert Murrell had been working with Titan Properties, master developer of Sawgrass Plantation, since 2015 on a proposal to change the future land use from Rural Enclave to Low-Density Residential, and rezone the site to a Planned Development (PD).
The project was scheduled to go to DRC in July and August, but was pulled from the agenda because county staff recommended denial.
The Murrell property, which is currently on the market for $4.9 million, is in an area of the county that's rapidly becoming more developed.
The initial site plan called for 276 single family homes on 50-, 60- and 70-foot lots, along with 6 acres of recreational land. Osceola's Land Development Code allows 3-8 units per acre, and county staff recommended denial because the project would have created 2.8 units per acre.
Julie Kendig-Schrader, land use attorney with Greenberg Traurig, represents Murrell. She said the county wants developers to come up with more creative ways to add density -- even on land that's almost entirely surrounded by AC (Agricultural-Conservation) zoning.
"This is one of those situations where they have to meet minimum density requirements in the Comp Plan because it's in the urban service boundary," Kendig-Schrader said.
The planning staff also wrote in an August report that the project, as designed, didn't meet the standards for the zoning change. "PDs are intended to afford a developer the latitude to achieve a design quality superior to that possible through utilization of standard development practices and to increase the amenities for its inhabitants," the report reads.
They said the project lacked the recreational space and increased amenities to qualfiy for a PD zoning. That sent the Titan-Murrell group, and their civil team from Poulos & Bennett back to the drawing board.
The revised site plan, filed just in time for Wednesday's DRC meeting, added 50 more residential units and increased the recreational space to 8.6 acres.
It maintains the street layout and pond locations, and keeps the 70-foot lots on the perimeter of the neighborhood. But the new plan reconfigured two interior blocks, switching out 46 detached single family lots for 104 townhomes with rear-loaded alley entrances and on-street parallel parking.
The changes meet the minimum three unit-per-acre threshold. The developer also will be required to improve Big Sky Boulevard, which could require piping for stormwater drainage, and Sharp Road.
With those terms in agreement, the DRC approved the CPA and PD, and advanced both to go to Planning Commission and Board of Commissioners in October.
Coldwell Banker Sales Associate Espe Almarza Anderson is currently marketing the property, which could become even more valuable once it has entitlements.
Attorney Jo Thacker, who represents Titan, told GrowthSpotter she would continue to usher the applications through the entitlement process. Whoever ultimately develops the project would have the flexibility add neighborhood amenities, such as a community pool and clubhouse, she said.