Proposed development could more than double Mascotte’s population

City council approves first reading to change zoning to allow for 2,800 homes, commercial development

MASCOTTE, Fla. – Tucked in between Groveland and Leesburg, the small city of Mascotte is feeling the pressure of urban sprawl coming to South Lake County, as a developer applies for a 2,800 home, commercial development in the city that has a population of only about 6,600, according to the latest Census data.

At a city council meeting Tuesday night, the council, in a 4-to-1 vote, approved the first reading of a city’s ordinance that would change the current zoning of 944 acres from Agricultural to Planned Unit Development Community Mixed-Use, consistent with the City’s Comprehensive Plan and Future Land Use Map, according to the city manager.

“The first thing to take place is the first reading of the zoning ordinance that would essentially change the approximately 944 acres known as the Langley Estates PUD from agricultural zoning to Planned Unit Development Community Mixed-Use zoning. This took place at last night’s meeting,” Annamarie Reno, Mascotte’s City Manager explained in an email to News 6.

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However, past the orange groves and down the road from the only traffic light in the City of Mascotte, residents reeled over the proposal outside the Rainbow Diner saying it could easily double the population of Mascotte.

“I hate it,” said Fred Thomas, who has lived in Mascotte for more than 50 years. “It shocks me. It’s ridiculous. This is agriculture country and it ought to stay agriculture country.”

“We don’t need it, there is already too many people now,” Maudie DeLeon said. “I moved from Orlando to get away from the traffic and the traffic got worse.”

“It terrifies me,” Virginia Bibus said. “We don’t have the schools we don’t have the pump stations we don’t have the roads.”

In fact, the lack of infrastructure is what many residents cited when describing their opposition to what would be the largest single development in the city’s history. Roy Cruz is a local business owner who spoke at the meeting Tuesday night.

“It was horrible,” Cruz said. “We don’t need it. There is no infrastructure here. We have one fire department that is not Lake County, no sewers, they are putting septic tanks in the ground. It’s polluting our water. If you want to build something build a Rec Center for our kids, fix our ballpark.

In the 4-to-1 vote Tuesday night, Councilwoman Pamela Terry was the one against it.

“I was the one vote against it,” Terry said. “I’m not against growth, it has to be sustainable and responsible. We have to have infrastructure in place. We have two officers covering this entire city at nighttime. That’s 6,500 people that they are covering for. None of this is being addressed, none of this is taken account for.”

No one else from the city including the mayor or other council members were available to speak on camera regarding the issue or their vote in favor of the first reading to change the zoning Tuesday night.

However, the city manager did release this statement to News 6.

“For Mascotte, if approval goes through with the Langley Estate this will be the largest single development the city has seen,” wrote Reno. “I feel confident in moving forward with the possible development of this property that Council, staff and our planner will take into account the concerns of residents and do what they feel is best for the growth and development of our city while protecting the health, safety and welfare of its residents.”

Again, no final decision was made Tuesday night. Instead, the city council will have a second reading which will be the final step to changing the zoning from agricultural to mixed-use. That meeting will be advertised and posted ahead of time for public comment.