Stop the rezoning of and development of townhouses on the west side of Hester Avenue.
Dear Commissioner Horan,
As concerned residents of Seminole County and neighbors to the property on the west side of Hester Avenue, approximately 700 feet south of Ronald Reagan Boulevard (08.15SS07) (Z2015-38) (parcel ID#2820300010D0000), we are opposed to the proposed rezoning of the property up for –Planning and Zoning Board hearing on January 4, 2017.
We respectfully ask for the zoning change request be denied and instead consider zoning it for single family residences that would keep in line with the other subdivisions on Hester Ave such as Hidden Creek, Hamilton Place, Autumn Chase, Lake Jesup Woods, and Heatherwood. We request that you reconsider the of type of zoning change and planned development on this parcel not because we are anti-growth, but because we believe the proposed rezoning and townhome development is not the ideal fit for this parcel of land and its surrounding community.
The most compelling reasons for opposition of this rezoning and proposed development include:
- Inconsistency with comprehensive plan goals, objectives and policies.
- Inconsistency and incompatibility with adjacent land uses. In section 4a of attachment A - Text, it is noted that the owner’s neighbors at Hamilton Place “has talked to his neighbors and they have no issues with what he is doing.” In fact, neighbors at Hamilton Place, as well as nearby communities of Autumn Chase, Hidden Creek, and Lake Jesup Woods are in opposition to this development and land use. There was no communication, except to a few individuals, about this proposed rezoning and development. UPDATED: Per the Planning and Zoning committee meeting on December 7, Paul Partyka & the property owners held a community meeting December 19, 2016. They could not address our concerns because they are not the developer and will have no control as to what Park Square does with the property once they have acquired the land if it is rezoned per their sales contract.
- Inconsistency in the character of the surrounding area. Section 4b of attachment A - Text, states, “The PD zoning and density for residential townhomes is consistent with the residential character of the neighborhood and will improve the overall beauty of the street.” In fact, the PD zoning and density is the biggest concern for residents in the surrounding community, and we do not agree that townhomes are consistent with the residential character or that they will improve the beauty of the street. On the contrary, the current make up of this area consists of single-family homes situated on large acre parcels, along with large lot, low density subdivisions. A townhouse community directly contradicts the current character of the surrounding area.
- Categorization of our community as "blighted or declining.” Section 4c states that this rezoning and development supports and furthers county plan goals, objectives, and policies and cited as being in line with “Redevelopment and renewal of blighted or declining areas.” We disagree with that sentiment and believe that there are other areas of the county that certainly fit this description (blighted or declining) and townhouses would be a great improvement and a better fit. We respectfully request evidence that supports the suggestion that this area is blighted or declining.
- Inconsistency with the East Central Florida Strategic Regional Policy Plan (section 6 of attachment A - Text). This parcel is part of Zone A in the 100-year floodplain. There is a large pond on the property and 2 acres of wetlands. This evidence further supports the current agricultural zoning and supports our skepticism of the developer’s (Park Square) intent to develop a secondary townhouse community. Logic and common sense dictate that it will not be possible to build 76 townhouse units with the current wetland and flood zone restrictions. Therefore, we believe the intent is to allow traffic overflow and access convenience for the already approved Windsor Square project.
- Adverse effects to the interconnected system of wetlands. The applicant noted that this section in the Special Areas and Standards of Review (Section 2) was “not applicable.” However, there are two acres of wetland on the parcel of land in question.
- Inaccurate or incomplete traffic study. It is clear that the traffic study that was conducted is not representative of the actual current level of traffic in our community along Hester and Myrtle. The traffic study should be conducted again during a series of days when traffic is increased due to rush hour, church at Spring Meadows, and event days and prayer times at the Islamic center. For accuracy, it should include traffic flowing onto Hester from Myrtle and in both directions on Hester near Victory Baptist Church. We also request the method and detail of the study for review. We do not recall any traffic measuring devices placed in the immediate area and I question the methodology used to obtain the data.
- Increased traffic and density in our community. The development of The Reagan Center is likely to create increased traffic in our area; however townhouses will create higher density in our immediate community. The development of The Reagan Center is guaranteed to create increased traffic in our area. The additional townhouses will create an even higher density in our immediate community, which is a direct contradiction to the master plan that is already in place. The approval of this rezoning may also lead to other large acreage property owners in the area seeking to rezone. This rezoning will have a negative impact on the environment and local real estate values.
- Negative impact on property values.
- The townhouses on Ronald Reagan are going to sell in the mid-100s. The properties in the surrounding communities along Hester and Myrtle average around $250,000-400,000, and we are concerned that the difference in price points will drive our home values down.
- We are also concerned that development of townhouses will create higher density, traffic, and environmental issues that will adversely affect our property values.
- Effects on the environment, drainage, and runoff. This land is part of Zone A in the 100-year floodplain. There is a large pond on the property and 2 acres of wetland, so it is uncertain how they plan to build (and where, as noted below).
- For example, Autumn Chase already has a drainage issue with backyards flooding during rain events, even those of shorter duration. We are concerned that this development will make matters worse, given it is comprised of wetland, and that drainage will become a bigger issue for Autumn Chase and surrounding communities as well.
- Contradiction of conservation efforts such as the Myrtle Street Urban Area Conservation Village. This conservation effort in particular is designed to restrict overdevelopment, and the development of townhouses nearby does not align with this intentional preservation of the conservation areas surrounding Myrtle Street.
- Ambiguity around how the property will be laid out. A proposed site plan would be ideal, denoting entrances and exits to the property as well as locations of easements and the residential units themselves. Without this, there is concern about approval for development for something that is left so undefined and unclear. The County Comprehensive Plan and Land Development Regulations require all PD's to submit a Master Plan with minimal requirements. This PD application's Master Plan does not meet the minimum requirements in the County's Code.
- Safety, security, and privacy at the Kids House. The proposed project abuts with the rear property of Kids House of Seminole, Wayne Densch Children’s Advocacy Center. Without a site plan it is unclear if the proposed townhomes would allow prospective residents to observe the daily operations of Kids House from their balconies, parking areas, recreational area, etc.,, which could have detrimental effects to the families and children who are receiving services for child abuse and/or human trafficking investigation, family/child advocacy case management and trauma-centered mental health services at Kids House. Many children seen weekly at the facility have active legal cases and as minors, they have legal right to confidentiality. Additionally, the safety and security of Kids House and Sheriff Department Crimes Against Children officers, who are subject to threat and stalking due to their pivotal role in the investigation and prosecution of child abuse and human trafficking, is paramount. Kids House is a secure facility and the safety and wellbeing of both clients and staff at Kids House need to be taken into consideration before deciding to move forward with the proposed land use amendment and rezoning.
If this land were to be rezoned and developed, we would be in agreement under these conditions:
- Change the planned rezoning and development. We are not opposed to the development of single-family detached (LDR) homes that are similar in style and value to those in the surrounding neighborhoods, i.e. Hamilton Place, Hidden Creek, Autumn Chase, Lake Jesup Woods, and Heatherwood. It would be ideal if the homes were single-story only to alleviate any privacy and security concerns at the Kids House.
- Don't connect Windsor Square to Hester. The townhouse development currently under construction on Ronald Reagan (Windsor Square) cannot connect to the Hester property. The density from those 60+ units in addition to those on the Hester property will simply be too much traffic on Hester.