Winter Park-based Yeager Development Company is looking to build 739 single-family homes in Winter Haven along Lake Fannie and Lake Smart and is asking the city for big changes to a 14-year-old planned unit development (PUD) and a zoning change to get it done.
The current PUD allows for 997 residential units – both single-family detached and attached units. It also would allow a commercial parcel of up to 50,000 square feet.
Yeager, with Bartow-based Sloan Engineering Group, is asking to cut the maximum number of residential units, to eliminate townhomes as an allowed use, and to reduce the commercial parcel to a maximum of 20,000 square feet on 3 acres of the 346-acre property. Two parcels would become part of planned unit development zoning from conservation.
“We’re coming forward with less dwelling units than we had previously requested but certainly there is a need to fulfill some of the housing needs in the city,” Orlando attorney Tara Tedrow told the Winter Haven planning commission last week (June 16). Tedrow is a shareholder at Lowndes, which is representing Yeager.
The proposed subdivision would rise on land currently covered by a mix of woodlands, wetlands and pastureland. Remaining conservation areas and wetlands would be avoided.
Located north is the Winter Haven Industrial Park across from Lucerne Park Road; Lake Fannie to the East, woodlands and wetlands to the south; and Willowbrook Golf Course, citrus groves, and Lake Smart to the west. Aside from the two parcels subject to the rezoning, the project would avoid the remaining conservation areas except for a planned path around the lakes, Tedrow said.
The proposed PUD removes commercial uses including hotel, indoor/outdoor recreation, funeral home, boat and watercraft sales and services, plant nursery, research and development facilities, automotive sales and service and bed and breakfast.
“We return back to neighborhood commercial uses,” Tedrow said. Those include limited business, medical and professional offices; retail shops; personal services; drive-thru restaurant (with special approval from planning commission); cafeteria or deli; and church, religious meeting area, clubhouse. The planning board unanimously approved the request. It now goes to the Winter Haven City Council for hearings on 13 and 27.
Winter Haven has seen interest for new subdivisions and commercial growth in the past year. D.R. Horton paid $1.7 million in March for Phase 2 of Country Walk at Winter Haven, a 78-home community that opened for sales in 2019. The takedown consisted of 36 lots. The homebuilder previously paid about $1.78 million for Phase 1. In April, Celebration-based CBD Real Estate Investment LLC was under contract for to purchase about 280 acres near Winter Haven in Eagle Lake with plans to develop a large residential subdivision and small commercial center.
Yeager’s subdivision will have density of 2.1 homes per acre with a minimum lot width of 50 feet. The developer may build up to 50 lots with a 40-foot width. Tedrow said planning is in the early stages. There will be at least two recreational amenities of at least 21,500 square feet each.
The land touches the shores of both lakes so docks would be allowed by individual owners based on the city’s recently updated dock ordinance, city planning manager Sean Byers told the commission. “We feel those are pretty robust regulations and would work well for this development,” Byers said.
One resident expressed concern about destroying the park-like area and wanted to know if a path could be provided around the lake for public use. Another resident asked about sand skinks and lighting that would protect wildlife at night. Tedrow said her client mitigated for sand skinks.
Planning staff said lighting will be energy efficient and dark sky compliant, and that once the area is built up, it likely will be connected with other public paths in the city. Tedrow said the city requires 8-feet-wide paths that will serve as multi-use paths and 5-feet-wide sidewalks.
NOTE: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of the developer’s name.