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Winter Springs townhome project pushed back

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A development looking to denude one of the final pieces of forest in the Winter Springs Town Center area was pushed back indefinitely after Winter Springs staff announced it wasn’t ready.

Information about the proposed 132-unit Hickory Grove townhome project may have arrived in a city staffer’s email box just minutes before the April 11 City Commission meeting, which was when the project was expected to be discussed and possibly voted on, but they didn’t have time to open it, according to City Manager Shawn Boyle.

“I’d hate to rush it, considering we don’t know what [Development Director Christopher Schmidt] has got in his inbox right now,” he said.

That launched discussion of not deciding on the development, sandwiched between Winter Springs High School’s sports fields to the north and Blumberg Boulevard to the south, until potentially May or beyond.

The future of the development has been in question since March 14 when three items the developer, Project Finance & Development, requested variances for were pushed back by the Commission: the total area per lot to be developed, the removal of specimen trees and the overall site plan.

Mayor Kevin McCann said that he understood that the longer the review continued, the farther back the development’s potential build would be pushed.

“These delays are costing the developer money,” he said. “We don’t want to unintentionally harm someone trying to do business with the city.”

“We are very aware that there’s a carrying cost of the land,” Boyle said. “We’re not ignorant to that fact…We’ll get it back here as soon as we can. It won’t be six months down the road.”

Land owner Juanita Blumberg said she thinks the things the city has asked her to do, such as add a dog walk area, are excessive and have not been previously expected of other developers.

“The city seems very cavalier about their service to the community. They will cancel scheduled meetings at the last moment with no explanation,” she said. “Mayor McCann was the first one to mention that they have had any concern for anyone. It certainly is not reflected in the way they’ve acted over the last 18 months.”

The development could have possibly come back before the Commission at the upcoming April 25 meeting, but the Commission voted unanimously to continue the item indefinitely, while expediting the review process.

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