FOUR CORNERS – Lake County is “on the move” — a motto that rings true often for the rapidly growing county — but county officials recently took time to remind residents of what has taken place over the past 12 months during a state of the county presentation.
Much was accomplished while even more plans have been created and are in various stages of development. For residents in the Four Corners area — whether in the Lake County portion of the area of part of the other three counties — plans for growth in southeast Lake can prove critical.
Commissioner Tim Sullivan, District 1, Lake County, is responsible for the portion of Lake, adjacent to Four Corners.
Per the state of the county report, the Wellness Way Area Plan, located in the southern portion of Lake County, will enable Lake County to diversify its economy, protect natural resources and strengthen its connectivity with other economic hubs in the region. The planning area is approximately 15,471 acres in southeast Lake County, south of State Road 50 and east of U.S. Hwy. 27.
The first stage of the project — a long-term master plan — has been approved and the second stage, implementation of the master plan, has begun with the hiring of a consultant.
“Wellness Way won’t just be subdivisions, but a true community where you have job creations with industry while protecting the natural resources,” Sullivan said.
Officials want to make residents part of the project and invite participation. Visit lakecountyfl.gov/wellnessway to vote on the design.
Meanwhile, construction — both commercial and residential — has broken records. In June and July, $22 million and $31 million, respectively, worth of building permits were issued in Lake’s District 1.
“That’s more than the other districts in Lake County combined for those months,” Sullivan said. “And, most of that growth is in the Four Corners area, with the average single-family home being about $300,000.”
Making travel easier for all those new residents is of great concern to the county’s leaders. In October, The Central Florida Expressway Authority (CFX) Governing Board unanimously approved the Lake/Orange County Connector Project Development and Environment (PD&E) Study and advanced the project to production phases that include design and construction.
The future five-mile tolled expressway will be a nonstop-access route linking U.S. Highway 27, in south Lake County, to State Road 429, in west Orange County, expected to begin the fall of 2022.
According to the CFX website, “The CFX Board’s decision contributes to the larger regional effort to improve connectivity and mobility in the rapidly expanding south Lake County and west Orange County area. The PD&E study area fell within the Wellness Way Area Plan and the Horizon West Special Planning Area, with Wellness Way anticipated to generate over 26,000 jobs and Horizon West growing to a projected workforce of more than 27,000.”
“We have real Florida and we don’t want to lose that,” Sullivan said. “We want to have smart growth and still maintain the character of Lake County.”
Other highlights from the state of the county presentation include: Construction recently began on the county’s new animal shelter, scheduled for completion in about a year; Numerous new ambulances and additional personnel were acquired; A $1 million grant from the federal government allowed the hiring of more firefighters and purchase of equipment; Continued investment in building new roads and resurfacing to keep up with the growth; Economic development is a high priority and the new site for the Kroger and Ocado Fulfillment Center is under construction in Groveland; A monument in remembrance of the Groveland Four was erected at the Courthouse.
“Lake County is growing, and we are growing with it. We are planning and preparing for the future and — with each decision — we weigh out the costs and benefits, seeking to protect residents’ hard-earned tax dollars,” said Leslie Campione, Chairwoman of the Lake County Board of County Commissioners. “We are working hard to provide quality services to the residents of Lake County.”