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The Villages
Saturday, June 25, 2022

Grands Oaks Resort project facing scrutiny over questions about age restrictions and traffic

The Lady Lake Town Commission wants more information before moving forward with a plan that calls for 150 build-to-rent cottages at the southeast corner of Marion County Road and County Road 25.

Representatives of the Wasserman Group, developer of the proposed 19-acre project at the Gloria Austin Grand Oaks property, unveiled the proposal to commissioners at a special conceptual workshop on Monday. The property is owned by Grand Oaks Holding LLC.

Three of the five commissioners said they wanted to have the developer come back with answers to questions including whether there will be age restrictions. Billed as a build-to-rent active adult community subdivision, the representative for the developer said they hope not to have age restrictions. Commissioner Ruth Kussard said if that’s the case, there needs to be more information about schools, bus stops and other impacts. That would involve input from the county and the school board, she said.

Commissioners Ed Freeman and Paul Hannan said their minds are already made up to oppose the project, mainly due to traffic concerns on County Road 25. The project is expected to generate approximately 1,602 daily trips, of which 119 are AM peak hour and 156 are PM peak hour trips.

When the city annexed the property in 2009, the development guidelines called for 75,600 square feet of commercial use, 48,000 square feet of office use, and 18 residential units. Eliminating the commercial and office space and zoning the property entirely residential would actually produce less traffic than the original plan, but there would be more than there is today.

“The bottom line is it is a net gain in traffic,” Freeman said in voicing his opposition. “We have a big road issue. I don’t want to move forward.”

Commissioner Tony Holden said he’s inclined to oppose the plan, but he wants to hear from the county before making a final decision.

“The county owns the road. The county owns the schools,” he said. “You’re going to need to deal with bus stops … safe bus stops for children. As far as I’m concerned, this plan is dead in the water right now.”

For the project to move forward, the commission will have to amend the Future Land Use and Rezoning for the two parcels. Additionally, right-of-way access will be required from Marion County Road and County Road 25, both of which are Lake County maintained roads.

If approved, the gated development would feature one- and two-bedroom cottages:

  • The Carmel one-bedroom cottage will have 698 square feet of living space
  • The Laguna one-bedroom cottage will have 786 square feet of living space
  • The Monterey two-bedroom cottage will have 915 square feet of living space

There will be a resort-style pool area complete with heated swimming pool and spa and poolside lounge seating, pickleball courts, a grilling area with picnic tables and a dog park.

According to the developer, the project will offer an alternative to apartments and will become one-of-a-kind development in the Lady Lake/The Villages market. They also added that the proposal offers features that cannot be found in conventional garden-style properties as this set up provides residents with a single-family home living experience with more privacy, peace and quiet, and higher mobility opportunities. Additionally, the private backyards will be low maintenance.

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