AMCO Development has asked for a relief hearing with a special magistrate after the Mount Dora City Council voted 4-3 against a mediated settlement that would have allowed the developer to seek approval for revised 33-acre mixed-use development in the city’s Wolf Branch Innovation District. AMCO initially sought to build a high-intensity mixed-use district on State Road 46 with offices, medical uses, retail space and hundreds of condos, apartments and age-restricted units. The initial plan sought approval for some towers as tall as 300 feet, but the the city’s planning commission and council members balked at the height, which exceeds the 100-foot limit approved in the Wolf Branch Innovation District standards. When AMCO brought the case to council for a second reading almost a year ago, they had reduced the maximum height of the towers from 350 feet to 197. The council still voted 5-2 to deny the zoning. The developer filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the Fifth Judicial Circuit Court saying the city council “unlawfully denied the rezoning application” for the project. The city and developer, represented by attorney Brent Spain, engaged in a mandatory mediation session with Special Magistrate Patrice Boyes on June 27, 2023, and reached a settlement, which was presented to the City Council in an executive session on Aug. 31. Following that meeting, the city attorney and Spain renegotiated the settlement and submitted it to the city in on Jan. 26. The proposed settlement would have rescinded the previous denial of the Planned Unit Development and allowed the council to consider the revised project at a future meeting. Acting City Manager Vince Sandersfeld stressed to the council Tuesday that approving the mediated settlement would not have automatically approved the revised zoning request. Spain told the Council that AMCO redesigned the project “as a as a direct result of that mediation” and made significant revisions and improvements. The goal was to ensure it would be “a true legacy project for the city and more importantly, the Wolf Branch Innovation District and we think it will be the impetus that that district is long overdue.” Under the 2024 plan, AMCO would have created a mixed-use project that allowed taller buildings on the southern portion of the site with shorter buildings fronting on State Road 46. The proposed building heights would have ranged from 50 feet to 150 feet, with two exceptions for residential towers that could be 165 and 175 feet tall. The developer also removed certain uses, such as self-storage, from the PUD’s permitted uses and enhanced the central park area by adding a water fountain and creating a splash park that would be accessible to the public as well as residents of the community. Spain said another element of the settlement eliminated apartments as a permitted use. “You’ve got residential which per the terms of the settlement agreement has to be fee simple. So these are not apartments,” he said. After the presentation, several members of the community spoke against the project, saying it still looked too much like Maitland — not Mount Dora — and that the buildings were still too tall. Councilman Cal Rolfson made a motion to approve the settlement agreement. Mayor Crissy Stile and Marc Crail supported the motion, but four council members — John Cataldo, Dennis Dawson, Nate Walker and Doug Bryant — voted against it. If council had approved the settlement, AMCO would have dismissed the litigation against the city. Sandersfeld said now the case will proceed to a hearing with Special Magistrate Boyes with a tentative date of March 11. Spain did not respond to requests for comment. Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at [email protected] or (407) 420-6261. Follow GrowthSpotter on Facebook and LinkedIn.