The ranch property, just east of Narcoossee Road, is an approved Development of Regional Impact (DRI) with entitlements for 2,201 single-family homes, 1,172 multifamily units, 170,000 square feet of retail use, 70,000 square feet of office space plus civic and community uses.
Pineloch Vice President Jimmy Caruso told GrowthSpotter his family, which has owned the land for nearly 70 years, plans to develop the retail center. But the council vote puts the entire project in limbo because the developer can't move forward without a utility agreement with the city.
"We were definitely surprised," Caruso said. "We want to be in St. Cloud, so we're trying to figure out what their wants are. We're not sure when we'll go back, but we don't have any immediate plans."
The April 12 vote came after the developer agreed to eliminate a road connection between Center Lake and the Starline Estates rural enclave to the north. That concession satisfied the adjacent neighborhood, and no one spoke against the project during the public hearing.
The city's staff and Planning Commission both supported the annexation and Mixed-Use zoning. Councilwoman Linette Matheny said she really liked the project, too, right before she killed it.
"I like this development. I think mixed use, it’s a great thing, but I’m going to make a motion to deny the resolution (to rescind the DRI)," she said. When told the council couldn't act on the DRI rescission unless it voted first to annex the ranch, she changed her motion to deny the annexation.
Councilmen Donald Shroyer and Chuck Cooper voted with her.
"Obviously, we didn’t see that coming, that you wouldn’t even get annexed," said VHB's Jim Hall, planner on the project. "That was one of the strangest motions to deny we've ever heard. It was shocking."
Councilman Dave Askew, who supported the annexation, appeared to have an issue with Ryan Homes, which had a contract to build a portion of Phase 1. He told council members he wanted assurances that Ryan would only build high-end product, comparable to what the company would offer in Creekside, south of Lake Nona.
Greater Orlando Builders Association spokesman Raleigh Steinhauer said the St. Cloud vote followed what has become a disturbing pattern that likely violates the city's Joint Planning Agreement with Osceola County.
"It’s pretty clear that if you’re a developer and you’re looking to annex into the city, you’re facing a very unpredictable and uncertain future and can be denied at any time based on the whim of a council member," he said.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Council members Linette Matheny, Donald Shroyer and Chuck Cooper voted to deny the annexation. Councilman Dave Askew voted against the motion for denial.