The Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) voted unanimously at the regular meeting on August 13, 2018 to approve their recommendation of the rezoning necessary to develop Spring Center, a 440-acre central hub of retail stores, restaurants and office space, surrounded by multi- and single-family homes. Their approval was given with three small changes to the performance conditions described in the staff report.
The rezoning is as follows, “Rezoning from AG/(Agricultural) to CPDP/ (Combined Planned Development Project) to include SF/(Single Family), MF/(Multifamily), SU/(Special Use), REC/(Recreation), PSF/(Public Service Facilities), GC/(General Commercial) with specific C-2 uses, and with deviations.” The P & Z recommendation will go to the Board of County Commissioners, who will make the final decision.
The following day (August 14, 2018), The Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) unanimously approved Spring Center’s amended comprehensive plan which state agencies had no objections to.
Some of the recommendations by P&Z the previous day, include changes to walkways that would better distinguish them from roadways, coordination of signage systems, and access to Spring Center from four access points, with roundabouts or other traffic calming devices at Chalmer Street and Stephanie Drive. The west entrance will be from Bay Drive and entrance from the north will be via the current Explorer K-8 driveway. Traffic studies are planned for each potential entrance.
According to Don Lacey of of Coastal Engineering Associates, current issues with drop-off and pick-up traffic at the Explorer K-8 school will be addressed with the school board to form alternative traffic patterns during the development of Spring Center. A provision to work with the school board to fix queueing and congestion problems is listed in the master plan.
At the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) regular meeting on August 14, 2018, the focus on accessing the future development from the east and south continued, with focus on Chalmer Street and Stephanie Drive.
Residents and visitors of the area spoke about their concerns of increased congestion in quiet neighborhoods and reduction of property values. A resident who lives near the proposed southern border said, “...everyone’s … going to have to sell, because the houses we have will not be worth anything. You should consider what kind of traffic will be going through there, and what kind of trash we’re going to have coming through all these streets.”
Only one speaker during citizen’s comments voiced approval of the development. Local business leader Richard Sanvenero stated, “Infill is the way to go, if you’re going to expand your county.” Sanvenero praised the Taylor family, long-time residents and owners of the 440-acre tract for caring about the future of Spring Hill. “Spring Hill when the Deltona Corporation started was a rural area. It’s an urban area… things change.”
Commissioner Jeff Holcomb reviewed the brief history of recent meetings regarding Spring Center, where it was discussed and found that the county cannot legally prevent development of the area. An alternative to the 3600 dwelling units currently planned, could involve houses and buildings erected “piecemeal,” possibly resulting in more dwelling units and ultimately more traffic in the areas of concern.
The innermost “heart” of Spring Center will be the town-center, zoned for commercial and public services, and is expected to include retail, restaurants, coffee shops and grocery stores. It will also be zoned to allow veterinarian offices, doctor’s offices and clinics, and alcoholic beverage dispensation. Public transit stops will also be available.
The center will be surrounded by multi-family housing, public parks and walking and bike trails, and surrounded by single-family homes at the perimeter. The single family homes will be adjacent to existing single family homes in the area.