Orange County recently hosted a community meeting on September 6th to discuss Disney’s request for 1,450 affordable housing units at the intersection of Hartzog Road and Avalon Road. During the meeting, Orange County staff presented an overview of the request, including details about the application, site location, and a process flowchart. Following this, a representative from Walt Disney Imagineering had the opportunity to address the community.
However, disappointment arose when Disney did not provide a comprehensive presentation on the project. Instead, they distributed a flyer containing a QR code leading to their Affordable Housing webpage, which lacked any new information or substance on the project. The Disney representative expressed excitement about the project before opening the floor to questions. This departure from the typical community hearing format, where applicants present more detailed site plans and architectural renderings, left residents wanting more substance.
In response to the lack of project details, residents raised concerns about potential impacts on infrastructure and public services. Some questioned why Disney wasn’t offering housing grants to current Cast Members instead of embarking on a new housing project, but the representative did not provide a direct response. When asked, Disney also did not clarify the rationale behind selecting this specific location or why they didn’t choose an area with better infrastructure. Questions encompassed a wide-range of topics including cell phone reception, firefighter response times, and pedestrian safety.
Disney’s general response was an assurance that the development would adhere to all Orange County and Horizon West code standards.
While only two residents spoke in favor of the project, citing the need for affordable housing for hospitality workers, most concerns revolved around the project’s size and potential impacts rather than its affordable housing designation. One speaker proposed the idea of converting an existing apartment complex into affordable housing rather than building a new one.
Several other residents expressed their commitment to opposing the project and urged everyone in attendance to stay engaged throughout the entire process. This community has a history of active involvement, as demonstrated when 11 residents successfully spoke during a Board of County Commissions meeting in Downtown Orlando when a self-storage facility was denied.
The final speaker during the Q&A session was a fifth-grader from Water Spring Elementary School, who shared concerns about his safety while riding his bike to school due to increased traffic from the development.
Commissioner Wilson concluded the meeting on an optimistic note, expressing a willingness to collaborate with the applicant on a new FAQ document to address residents’ questions regarding the impact on infrastructure.
No dates were set for the next steps for the request.
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