A neighborhood designed for families who want to live on the north side of the Orlando metroplex has changed its name and its mission.
What was supposed to be a 700-home development in a country setting is now poised to expand to more than 1,000 dwellings — if the DeBary City Council agrees.
The City Council on Dec. 7 postponed action on a request by Rivington’s developer, Reader & Partners LLC, to annex almost 10 acres into the community and rezone the land to allow 80 more town houses.
The town houses would be in addition to the 924 homes now authorized for Rivington and its 336 acres. The total is well above the original limit of 700.
“I really have a problem with this request for eight units per acre instead of four per acre,” Mayor Karen Chasez said.
She said growth in and around Rivington is creating rush-hour traffic woes on Fort Florida Road and Barwick Road, as well as on U.S. Highway 17-92.
“I live in that area. Sitting in the traffic — so I do have that experience,” Chasez said.
“Eighty [town homes] is the high end of what we’re trying to plan for,” Mark Watts, the attorney representing the developer, told the City Council.
The request for the 10-acre annexation into Rivington and rezoning the parcel from Rural Agriculture (A-2) to Mixed Planned Unit Development (MPUD) comes months after the City Council amended the development by adding 30 more acres to the community’s original 296 acres.
With the 30-acre addition comes permission to build 224 town houses, and that raises the maximum housing number to the current 924. Single-family homes are also available.
Chasez said Rivington has not yet met its original buildout cap, and already the rural roadways are strained by the traffic congestion. Chasez said she hopes more transportation options become available, instead of only private cars.
What is now called Rivington was formerly known as Fort Florida Commons, a name that calls to mind the area’s 19th-century frontier heritage. Conceived a few years ago as a modern neighborhood in a tranquil rural setting, Fort Florida Commons was supposed to be a place where its families could put down roots — literally, as in growing their own food in a community garden — and maybe keep a horse or pony. The term “agrihood” was used to describe the experiment of mixing country and urban living.
“We liked the concept, but when the rubber hit the road, it wasn’t that concept,” Chasez said.
“We’d be happy to request a continuance,” Watts said.
The City Council voted 3-0 to delay action on the 10-acre addition. Council Members James Pappalardo and William Sell were absent, leaving Chasez, Vice Mayor Phyllis Butlien and Council Member Patricia Stevenson to defer the matter. The City Council will discuss Rivington’s proposed expansion again at its Jan. 4, 2023, meeting.
After the vote, Reader & Partners President Dean Barberree confirmed the idea of a community garden in Rivington has been dropped.
“That’s not part of the plan,” he said. “The people like the open space.”