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Monday, March 4, 2024

Leesburg planning board approves 316 acre development despite concerns about overcrowded schools

A 316 acre development is moving forward in Leesburg after a 4-3 vote by the city’s planning and zoning commission.

The Village Palms development will have three entrances onto State Road 44 just south of the Pennbrooke Fairways retirement community. The Village Palms development is a mixed-use subdivision which is not affiliated with The Villages retirement community just west of the Lake/Sumter County line.

The plan for this development calls for 1,260 residential units which will consist of 562 detached single-family homes, 300 multi-family apartments, 134 duplexes and 264 townhouses. Three roundabouts would be constructed in the development as well as 130,000 square feet of commercial space which may include a 120 room hotel. The plan calls for the construction of 42,000 square feet of professional and medical offices.

Diagram of proposed developement on State Road 44 across from Pennbrooke Fairways community
A diagram of proposed development on State Road 44 across from Pennbrooke Fairways community.

Planning Director Dan Miller told the commissioners that the complex plan met all city requirements for the proposed zoning change from Lake County agricultural to Leesburg city planned unit development . He expressed some surprise that no residents of the Pennbrooke Fairways had lodged an objection to the The Village Palms development which borders a neighboring development called The Crossings at 44 on three sides. Several Pembrooke and area residents urged the city commissioners to reject The Crossings at 44 due to heavy traffic on SR 44 

Commissioner Ze Carter noted that Leesburg schools are at capacity and that this development would add students to an already strained school system. She did not buy the developer’s argument that the impact fees would adequately address that issue. Commissioner John O’Kelley felt that the four housing units to the acre would be too dense.

The first reading of the proposed development is set for Dec.18 and the final reading after which the commission will vote to either approve  or deny the project. The Leesburg commissioners are not required to follow the findings of the Planning and Zoning Commission.

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