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An update from mid-April 2016 of the Regulating Plan map for The Grow project (Lake Pickett South). The location of the elementary school and community park (in purple) have been swifted slightly west from previous versions of the layout.
An update from mid-April 2016 of the Regulating Plan map for The Grow project (Lake Pickett South). The location of the elementary school and community park (in purple) have been swifted slightly west from previous versions of the layout. (VHB, Inc.)

Finalizing a public school site and appraising a 20-acre central park are key tasks that remain for the development team behind The Grow, but the project is on pace to clear a hurdle Thursday, when its rezoning is approved by Orange County's long-range planning advisory board.

As GrowthSpotter reported on Feb. 4, local developer Dwight Saathoff and urban planner Jim Hall are working with county staff to make zoning history with The Grow, a mixed-use sustainable community proposed for 1,200 acres in east Orange County with thousands of homes, commercial space, an elementary school, community park, public gardens, a working farm, equestrian facility, and a farmers market.

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Since then, the project has cycled through three meetings with Orange's Development Review Committee (DRC). Its Regulating Plan (RP), the first of its kind in Orange County, and agreements with county agencies that accompany it must be complete by a June 30 deadline, when the project should appear at the Board of County Commissioners for PD-RP rezoning.

A 47-page Regulating Plan created by developers of The Grow community is like nothing Orange County planning staff have ever seen, and could help shape the way zoning is applied in the county in the future.

June 30 is when a state-issued extension for the associated Lake Pickett Comprehensive Plan amendments expire.

The Grow's PD-RP rezoning has a hearing on Thursday with Orange's Local Planning Agency (LPA), with a staff recommendation for approval. The LPA, also referred to as the Planning and Zoning Commission (PZC), serves as the county's long-range planning advisory board.

A draft Capacity Enhancement Agreement (CEA) is close to being finalized with Orange County Public Schools for the size and location of a public elementary school, with approval expected in May, said Jim Hall, urban planner for VHB, Inc., who has written The Grow's RP.

Relocating a central park, negotiating a public school and finalizing $28 million in traffic mitigation fees remain key hurdles in the coming weeks for the development team behind The Grow, as the window to earn rezoning approval from Orange County tightens between now and a late June deadline.

A rough appraisal for the school land was $28,000 in late March, a value OCPS would pay to the property owners represented by Dwight Saathoff, principal with Project Finance & Development LLC and developer of The Grow.

A draft of the APF agreement continues to be revised by attorneys for the county and Saathoff, and an appraisal should be completed soon for the 20-acre public park space, Hall said.

That appraisal will set a price for the park land, which Orange County will pay to the owners. The park site could also be dedicated to the county in exchange for impact fee credits.

Both the APF and CEA agreements have to be finalized prior to BCC in June.

Allen & Company of Orlando completed recent surveying of the official wetland lines on the expansive property Conservation Area Determination (CAD).

After BCC in June, Saathoff's team can pursue finer grade planning and horizontal construction permits. Homebuilders are already showing unsolicited interest in the development, Saathoff said.

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at bmoser@growthspotter.com, (407) 420-5685 or @bobmoser333. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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