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A project that would bring 14,500 square feet of commercial space and 196 multi-family residential units was approved by the Oviedo Local Planning Agency Board on March 15. It’s expected to be considered by the City Council on April 4.
The applicant, David Egozi, proposed to change the existing future land use designation and zoning to mixed-use for the property west of Alafaya Trail and south of West Mitchell Hammock Road. He cannot build housing there with the current designation.
The “mixed-use” term means that developers can build residential and commercial structures on the same property.
The project will have two primary entrances, along Alafaya Trail, and it is expected to generate 133 new trips during peak hours. The developer will provide a rideshare parking space, an extra electric vehicle charging station, and bike racks.
Egozi also proposed to construct a right-in, right-out driveway intersection on the project, meaning it will be a three-way intersection where vehicles will only be able to turn right.
He said that the driveway should ease the traffic.
Jeff Banker, the civil engineer of the developer, said that this mixed-use proposal will create less traffic on Alafaya Trail than its current commercial designation because commercial buildings attract more traffic than residential.
“If you were to develop this property to its full intensity as commercial, you’d have over 13,000 (daily) trips associated with this property,” Banker said.
LPA board member Steven Rich said that there are already major safety issues at several Alafaya Trail intersections, including Mitchell Hammock Road, Alexandria Boulevard and Alafaya Woods Boulevard.
“This project, because it’s two right-in, right-outs, is going to put at least 100-plus U-turns on Alexandria and Alafaya Woods Boulevard intersections every day, which is a problem as it exists right now,” Rich said. “If you are talking about the Alafaya Woods Boulevard left-turn lane, the people that will come out of this project, they are going to have to screw across three lanes of traffic and try to get into that left turn lane to do their U-turn.”
The city’s traffic engineer, Kok Wan Ma, said their evaluations concluded that they are going to have enough capacity to deal with traffic.
Traffic safety is considered at a later stage in the planning process for a project.
“I live in that neighborhood, I use Alexandria and Alafaya Trail Boulevard daily and you take your life in your own hands,” Rich said. “In my private life, I have lobbied FDOT (Florida Department of Transportation) to either put up “No U-turn” signs there or at the very least “U-turn yield to right turn,” but fell on deaf ears because I was just a single person. They couldn’t care less. Maybe (the Oviedo) City Council can bend their arms a little bit, but that’s the part that scares me.”
LPA member Bruce Kavenagh proposed that the applicant buy a side property-wide street to try to get an exit that way and help with the traffic.
Ma said that could be an option, but they will have to have the permission of the owner next to the property.
Oviedo Planning Manager Debra Pierre said that safety is not something the LPA should be concerned about at this stage.
Pierre said that the traffic consultant will later review the site plan as well as the traffic study to ensure that it is safe for travel.
LPA member Brian Smith wondered if the schools in the area might have enough capacity for new students.
“I was reading one sentence, it seemed to say that maybe there’s not enough capacity at the schools closest to it, so they would have to go farther away,” Smith said. “Is that a common issue we’re going to run into now?”
Pierre said that it is a common issue they will run into, but she said that if the schools that are in the area are at capacity the students will be relocated.
Banker said that they did have a brief discussion with Seminole County Public Schools about school zoning if the project is approved.
“They basically said that because there’s capacity in another school close by, that those kids have the opportunity to go to that additional school,” Banker said. “We haven’t gotten any specific discussion about busing or transportation, but I would imagine that those kids would have to get a ride from their parents, the buses would not be brought out to this property to transport them to another school outside of the immediate area.”
Pierre said that current students attending the schools in the area will not be displaced.
Pierre said that the city tries to promote mixed-use development because it enhances walkability.
“People being able to go from the apartments to the commercial to eat without putting those trips on the road,” Pierre said. “This is consistent with where we are going in the future.”
LPA Vice Chairman David Pollack mentioned that even though they want to see certain things in the city that they envisioned, they also had to take into consideration that there is a housing shortage in Oviedo.
Pollack expects the apartments proposed on the project to be affordable and to give the opportunity for new families to live in Oviedo.
“This provides people the opportunity to live in Oviedo that might otherwise not be able to live here,” he said.
The project will go to the City Council next for two public hearings scheduled for April 4 and April 18, which would be the final consideration.
The LPA board approved the project with the condition that the City Council considers having the applicant explore cross-access to the other commercial development on the northern side of the property.