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sunshine

More Sprawl in the Making

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sunshine    253

Ocoee says: Get ready, set, grow!

City officials want to develop 1,600 acres and bring in 24,000 new residents.

OCOEE -- Orange County's third-largest city is sitting on top of a population explosion -- one that is likely to nearly double its size in just 20 years.

Driving that growth is west Orange's insatiable appetite for development and Ocoee's plan to feed it.

Officials want to change the city's land-use plan to allow for more dense residential and commercial development on 1,600 acres of mostly vacant and underutilized land northwest of the city center. Most of the property is privately owned and zoned for agricultural use.

Dubbed the Northwest Sector, the area is loosely bordered by Franklin Street on the south; McCormick Road on the north; East Crown Point Road and Lake Apopka on the west; and Peters Avenue and the Western Beltway (State Road 429) on the east.

"I see a new Ocoee up there -- a new economic center for the community," said Mayor Scott Vandergrift, who views the city's development plan as a way to control the phenomenal growth taking place in west Orange.

The sector plan would bring the city of 29,215 an additional 24,000 to 26,000 new residents, 8,700 to 10,000 new homes and 6,000 to 7,000 new jobs, according to a recent study by the Renaissance Planning Group in Orlando.

The city is leading the charge with plans to sell a large parcel it owns, in partnership with the Orange County School Board, in the sector's Crown Point area.

In 2000, the city paid $6 million to buy from Coca-Cola and improve about 360 acres bordering Lake Apopka for future development. The city sold more than 100 acres to the School Board, which is building a high school on part of its property.

"We have 20 buyers on a list," Ocoee community-development director Russell Wagner said. "We'll throw it out there and see" who bites.

Wagner said the value of the land has increased dramatically in four years, ensuring the city will recoup its investment and make a profit on the 145 acres it plans to sell over time.

But the city's grand plan won't come cheap. Projected infrastructure costs to upgrade roads, provide water and install sewers would top $60 million, according to the study.

Road improvements alone would cost $50 million and include four-laning parts of Silver Star, Ocoee-Apopka, Fullers Cross, Clarcona-Ocoee and West roads.

A new water-treatment plant and water-main upgrades would cost an estimated $6.5 million. Upgrades to an existing sewage-treatment plant would add more than $5 million. And annual operating costs could tack on another $17 million to $20 million.

Payment options include issuing municipal bonds, using development impact fees, asking developers to offset some costs -- and possibly raising property taxes, officials said.

The city recently proposed nearly doubling its impact fees on new-home construction. The rates would be among the highest in the county. Commissioners are scheduled to vote on those increases in March.

"We've got this undeveloped area with no utilities and no game plan for land uses," Wagner said. "We needed a game plan for the area. We're getting a lot of [development] pressure up there."

The Renaissance study offers the city three scenarios. The first suggests mostly single-family homes, with commercial development at S.R. 429 interchanges north and south of the sector. The second includes fewer homes and more office space, and the third offers high-density residential with more multifamily units and industrial development at the south interchange.

Members of the city's planning and zoning board are evenly divided between the first two options. City staffers are recommending the first option, citing the huge need for housing.

Homes also offer a fast way to bolster the city's tax base, officials point out.

The residential plan will be presented to commissioners in a month or two, Wagner said.

The single-family-home option "doesn't overload us on commercial development," said Jim Golden, president of Ocoee's planning board, who favors the first option.

"We don't want to look like Altamonte Springs," he said.

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It also means more sprawl at 15 person per acre.

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corpkid    0

Just what central florida needs -- more sprawl! At least the traffic won't be an issue (sic) :angry:

My buddy lives right on the border of this area and he's not very happy about this news... can't say I blame him. Oh well, I guess it can't hurt property values (can it?) but nonetheless - sprawl sucks. Glad to be out of it and finally downtown (albiet 8 months later than planned!).

Ocoee says: Get ready, set, grow!

City officials want to develop 1,600 acres and bring in 24,000 new residents.

OCOEE -- Orange County's third-largest city is sitting on top of a population explosion -- one that is likely to nearly double its size in just 20 years.

Driving that growth is west Orange's insatiable appetite for development and Ocoee's plan to feed it.

Officials want to change the city's land-use plan to allow for more dense residential and commercial development on 1,600 acres of mostly vacant and underutilized land northwest of the city center. Most of the property is privately owned and zoned for agricultural use.

Dubbed the Northwest Sector, the area is loosely bordered by Franklin Street on the south; McCormick Road on the north; East Crown Point Road and Lake Apopka on the west; and Peters Avenue and the Western Beltway (State Road 429) on the east.

"I see a new Ocoee up there -- a new economic center for the community," said Mayor Scott Vandergrift, who views the city's development plan as a way to control the phenomenal growth taking place in west Orange.

The sector plan would bring the city of 29,215 an additional 24,000 to 26,000 new residents, 8,700 to 10,000 new homes and 6,000 to 7,000 new jobs, according to a recent study by the Renaissance Planning Group in Orlando.

The city is leading the charge with plans to sell a large parcel it owns, in partnership with the Orange County School Board, in the sector's Crown Point area.

In 2000, the city paid $6 million to buy from Coca-Cola and improve about 360 acres bordering Lake Apopka for future development. The city sold more than 100 acres to the School Board, which is building a high school on part of its property.

"We have 20 buyers on a list," Ocoee community-development director Russell Wagner said. "We'll throw it out there and see" who bites.

Wagner said the value of the land has increased dramatically in four years, ensuring the city will recoup its investment and make a profit on the 145 acres it plans to sell over time.

But the city's grand plan won't come cheap. Projected infrastructure costs to upgrade roads, provide water and install sewers would top $60 million, according to the study.

Road improvements alone would cost $50 million and include four-laning parts of Silver Star, Ocoee-Apopka, Fullers Cross, Clarcona-Ocoee and West roads.

A new water-treatment plant and water-main upgrades would cost an estimated $6.5 million. Upgrades to an existing sewage-treatment plant would add more than $5 million. And annual operating costs could tack on another $17 million to $20 million.

Payment options include issuing municipal bonds, using development impact fees, asking developers to offset some costs -- and possibly raising property taxes, officials said.

The city recently proposed nearly doubling its impact fees on new-home construction. The rates would be among the highest in the county. Commissioners are scheduled to vote on those increases in March.

"We've got this undeveloped area with no utilities and no game plan for land uses," Wagner said. "We needed a game plan for the area. We're getting a lot of [development] pressure up there."

The Renaissance study offers the city three scenarios. The first suggests mostly single-family homes, with commercial development at S.R. 429 interchanges north and south of the sector. The second includes fewer homes and more office space, and the third offers high-density residential with more multifamily units and industrial development at the south interchange.

Members of the city's planning and zoning board are evenly divided between the first two options. City staffers are recommending the first option, citing the huge need for housing.

Homes also offer a fast way to bolster the city's tax base, officials point out.

The residential plan will be presented to commissioners in a month or two, Wagner said.

The single-family-home option "doesn't overload us on commercial development," said Jim Golden, president of Ocoee's planning board, who favors the first option.

"We don't want to look like Altamonte Springs," he said.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

It also means more sprawl at 15 person per acre.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

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jennjt    0

As a relatively new (1.5 years) Ocoee resident, I would first like to see some development at the corner of W. Colonial and Maguire Rd.

The NW and NE corners have had recent upgrades but the SW corner has an abandoned gas station and the old Colony Hotel/Days Inn which has been in "waiting-to-be-condemned status" for the past few years. The SE corner also has an abandoned gas station overgrown with weeds. The plaza behind it lacks overhead signage for all its tenants (NOT hurricane related) and its largest retail space has been vacant for almost a year.

This is the Western gateway into Ocoee (and the Northern gateway into the Windemere area). When you make that southbound turn from Hwy 50 to Maguire, you think you are entering a rundown, abandoned area that has lost hope - not a growing city sitting on top of a population explosion.

I also do not want Ocoee to "look like another Altamonte Springs" (I just moved from that area a year and a half ago) but lets improve our existing retail sectors before adding new ones!

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cwetteland    89

I think Ocoee is a great little town, but don't want anything that extends sprawl. I'd like to see those abandoned stations torn down and plant a nice live oak or something in its place.

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Rayman    0

why is this old Colony hotel allowed to just ROT? not to mention the old gas station, how can the city allow this to happen I dont care who owns this property,, something must be done,, Tear that Crap down. :)

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Ocoee is keeping their taxes low through growth. It works great during the growth years (see Maitland 20 years ago), but it can be a killer when those years are over, especially if you have the expensive infrastructure of single-family sprawl without a decent ratio of office, commercial, and industrial development. Remember, unless they are very high-end, single-family homes do not pay their own way and are always subsidized by other types of development.

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Rayman    0

That doesn't explain to me why the city allows this hotel to rot ,, you see that up in cities like Detroit (The Book Cadillac Hotel, Michigan Central Railroad Depot) But not in Florida,, Not only is it an eyesore but a safety hazard as well.

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