To many it seemed like it was all but a done deal. Apparently, that didn’t stop local community activists, and Wednesday their persistence paid off in spades. The Orange County Commission voted down a proposal by the developer of The Parks of Mount Dora to change 75,000 square feet of designated office space and 280 senior citizen residential units to 75,000 square feet of commercial space and 280 multi-family homes. The current designation of senior residential units reduces the impact on local public schools. Property tax revenue will go to Orange County, but the City of Mount Dora will generate income from the development by supplying water with an “out-of-city” surcharge of twenty-five percent.
The developer’s proposed change was partially accepted earlier this year by Mount Dora City Council when it voted to allow the change from office space to commercial use. Many thought Orange County Commission could follow the city’s stance. However, that was far from the case.
Over a dozen opponents of the proposal addressed the commission during Wednesday’s meeting, while four people reportedly spoke in favor of the developer’s changes. Eventually, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs asked for a show of hands of the audience members for or against the proposal. The response was overwhelmingly opposed, according to Bud Cunnally, Vice President of Tangerine Improvement Society (TIS) and Resident Director of the Stoneybrook Hills Homeowners Association. After a series of votes, the commission was united in its denial of the developer’s proposal.
TIS has a long track record of successfully fighting to preserve the rural nature of Mount Dora’s neighboring Tangerine community, and this vote was a hard-fought victory.
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