8/19/2015 – Will the Lake Pickett Text Amendment be Adopted?

The Grow at Lake Pickett

The big question is, “Will the Text Amendment and Lake Pickett South (LPS) be Adopted?”

I asked this simple question of several people.  “How many applications that have been transmitted are denied at adoption?”  No one can remember any that have been denied.  I am sure there are probably some that have been withdrawn by the applicant or even denied but from what I hear, most succeed.  This leaves the odds in favor of adoption but there are issues that still need to be worked out.

A lot needs to happen between now and the adoption hearing so this is by no means a slam-dunk as some might think.  You have to listen very closely to the last 15 minutes of the 7 hours of video to truly understand what occurred and what exactly was transmitted.  There were conditions for transmittal that may make this whole thing fall apart.  The developer may find the county requests to be too demanding and just withdraw on their own.

I do have to commend the Board of County Commissioners for sticking to their convictions and voted how they each saw the issues.  There is no doubt there was influence from the crowd but in the end it came down to well thought out decision by each board member.   I was not at all unhappy with the outcome and I viewed the votes as “collective wisdom” as I phrased it to them recently at public comment.

One thing we all have to make sure happens regardless of our individual positions on the text amendment and LPS.  Sins of the past cannot be repeated.  What I mean by that is we can’t allow something to be adopted and then have it changed many times over through variances.  If this is adopted we must all agree on one thing and that is to hold the county and the developers feet to the fire to do the honorable thing and make sure what happens is what was agreed. 

What were the conditions that must be met in order to be adopted?

Dwight Saathoff

The Road Agreement (explained by Dwight Saathoff at the hearing.  Most of this is verbatim from the video):

The number the county needs from the developer is 28 million and as the developer, Dwight Saathoff, explained he set up a schedule to meet the 28 million and the release for trips.  He said the deal is very close to being what was being asked of him by the county.  The only difference is Chuluota Road.  The issue the developer has is most steps to build the road are controlled by the county.

  • The steps start with PD&E which is the preliminary design and is a legal process which is lead by the county and takes approximately one year.
  • After that is the right of way acquisition which has to be done by the county because the county is the only entity that has power of eminent domain and also takes about a year
  • Design could be done by the developer but needs to be signed off by the county and takes six month to a year.
  • And finally construction.
  • The county will also approve the developers budget, the contractor and the construction contractor.

All that is left after that is making payments.  Dwight Saathoff said he does not want to be in a position where he has to call someone at the county asking them if they are working on his road deal, are they condemning the land and other questions.  What he wants to do is give the county the money and when Orange County is ready to spend money on design, the money will be available.  He said he doesn’t want to call the county every week for seven years to do what needs to be done.  With the amount of money that he has to put up front, he can’t afford to be stuck in mid-project and hope someone will answer his calls.  According to Dwight Saathoff this is the only twist on the deal.  The developer agreed to the money and if the county can agree to the terms then they can go forward and if not the the landowners will be breaking up and it would end “The Grow” as we know it.

The county’s idea is to take 3 million dollars of the “Invest” money and do the PD&E, then the developer would be ready for construction in 2-3 years and would construct the roads.  (Note:  remember the developer can construct roads 40% cheaper than the county so more bang for the buck).  The developer said “No”.  The developer said 25 million is all they would do otherwise they were going home.  Commissioner Edwards said the deal has changed and the developer wants the county to take the risk of cost over-runs which the county was not willing to assume at this time.  The county is willing to discuss these differences.

At this point in time there is no agreement on the roads.

Sewer Lines:

According to Commissioner Clarke there was an agreement made in 1998 that the sewer lines across the Econ would not be increased.  The sewer lines were specifically put in to accommodate the entitlements that were granted in 1991 and nothing more.  There was a comment made during the hearing by a developer that the lines were adequate for these communities.  This will most definitely be verified.  Increasing the lines would allow more development east of the Econ which most people are not in favor.  Read this article from way back in 1998 by the Orlando Sentinel.

The Grow’s Farm:

How will it be supported?  There is a growing number of golf courses that are intertwined in HOAs and going out of business.  District 4 is seeing this with Eastwood.  The owners of the golf courses want to convert the course into homes.  Of course the residents who bought into the HOA thinking the golf course was an amenity are not too happy.  However, how does the problem get solved.  The golf course owners end up allowing the course to fall into disarray because there is not enough money to support it.  How does “The Grow” ensure the same thing doesn’t happen to it’s farm.  Read this article earlier this year in the Orlando Sentinel regarding Eastwood.

And don’t forget the State of Florida.  Remember, the state and several agencies must sign off on the amendment.  Perhaps there will be something in this that does not meet their guidelines.  We will have to wait to see.

There is a lot of details to work through but if history is any indication of the future, we will see the text amendment adopted and “The Grow” built.  I also think we will see Sustany come back in the next cycle with reduced density and the issues that prevented it from being transmitted addressed.

In my next blog I will talk about how the density of 2,256 units came to be for LPS.  If you think this happened by magic, think again.



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Posted in McCulloch Road.