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Lake Pickett projects ultimately go separate directions

Lake Pickett projects ultimately go separate directions
Dwight Saathoff, developer of The Grow (Lake Pickett South property), answers questions during one of three meetings developers held with residents who are against ambitious building in the area. (Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda / Orlando Sentinel)

The Lake Pickett North and Lake Pickett South developments went their separate ways, with Orange County commissioners approving Lake Pickett South, known as "The Grow," and Lake Pickett North's developer withdrawing his application.

The move to withdraw came hours into a meeting that didn't end until 2 a.m. and after three community meetings in which area residents voiced broad disapproval, the Orlando Sentinel reported.

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The Grow project will now be sent to the state's Department of Economic Opportunity for review. The state will review the project and provide comment before sending the projects back to Orange County.

From there, the developer of The Grow, Dwight Saatoff, will have to address any significant comments, and then the project go to the local planning agency for an adoption hearing Oct. 15, and a final adoption hearing before the county commissioners Nov. 10.

The Grow is 1,237 acres. Planned are 2,256 residential units -- 2,219 single family and 742 multi-family. Lake Pickett North was planned as 1,436 acres with 1,999 residential units.

Lake Pickett North, whose developer, Sean Froelich, withdrew because he did not think he had commission support, can amend his plan and resubmit it during the next comprehensive plan cycle, which is about six months from now.

Both project areas are zoned for one home per 10 acres. Both developers proposed changing that, with much greater densities under their proposals.

Orange County commissioners heard over 10 hours of testimony — most of it against the development proposals for the Lake Pickett area, located east of the University of Central Florida and north of State Road 50, the Orlando Sentinel reported. Opponents had asked the board to reject the requests which could open development in the area.

The tone was the same at community meetings, which county representatives attended, at Corner Lake Middle School on April 28, May 12, and June 2. Hundreds of residents attended, calling the projects out of sync with the area's rural character, a feeder of more vehicles into an already congested area and generally ill planned.

The developers have been trying to get their projects through since 2014, making numerous changes to their plans, but still not coming up with something palatable to local residents who want to retain their way of life. The latest versions of The Grow contains ranch-like touches including barns and stables and one is even modeled as a farming community, although the homes remain upscale compared with others in the area.

Froelich and Saatoff did not return calls seeking comment.

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