Orange city officials on Tuesday night will consider the proposed Ridgeline Equestrian Estates project, a 39-home residential development at Orange Park Acres that's drawn attention from opponents and supporters alike.
The project calls for, among other things, 39 one-acre equestrian estate lots built on a 51-acre plot of land formerly home to a golf course. The site, however, is currently zoned as other open space – aka recreational – but it has two approved land-use designations, the other being one-acre estates.
The property owner, John Martin of JMI Real Estate, seeks to rezone the land as single-family residential in order to move forward with the development, according to a staff report.
Proponents of the project believe it would benefit the city of Orange and the county's economy.
"As with any new development project, the Orange Ridgeline Equestrian Estate development would mean many desperately needed jobs for the residents of our county," said Bryan Starr, CEO of the Building Industry Association of Orange County. "This is a great opportunity for job creation and community development. In a time where private industry is suffering from record unemployment, this project is a bright spot in Orange County."
Diane Gaynor, a community outreach consultant for JMI, added that the project "makes sense for Orange Park Acres and the land use allowed under the general plan."
"In addition to the construction and building jobs that would be provided, the project also comes with millions of dollars of new recreational facilities, paid for by the property owner," she said. "It's a good deal for the city of Orange."
Opponents, meanwhile, say there's not enough recreational open space left in the city.
"The city is 164 acres short of recreational park space," according to a statement from the Orange Park Association. "It should be adding more recreational open space, not taking away the little we have."
If city officials OK the project, opponents plan to seek a ballot initiative.
The project would include an equestrian ride-in only arena, open space, public and private trails, private streets and landscaping; proposed homes would range in size from 6,500 to 8,500 square feet. And, 34 of the 39 lots would accommodate private equestrian stables.
The matter will be up for discussion at 7 p.m. tonight.
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