Jan 07, 2024

Housing development could end Winter Garden business

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — The city of Winter Garden is set to vote for the second time on Thursday on a series of ordinances to annex, rezone and develop a property on Tilden Road in West Orange County.

Horses are Anne Bingler's life. Bingler who built her farm in the late 1990s, has bred, raised, and trained performance horses for more than two decades.

A fear she never anticipated having, Bingler said the future of her business is at jeopardy if the city of Winter Garden approves plans to build a new housing complex on the west side of her horse farm.

"We don't sleep at night," says Bingler who worries she will no longer be able to sustain a business that trains horses for national competitions.

Bingler adds recently built houses near her farm have only made it worse to keep business running smoothly.

The current housing community adjacent to the east side of her property of 55 homes was built in summer of 2021. A landowner plans to hire a custom home builder to add 24 homes on a different lot to the west side of her property, but Bingler says the new development would only hurt her business as new residents would increase noise and traffic, causing a disturbance to her competition horses.

"To know that the same thing could happen on the other side of us, it would just destroy our operations and destroy our very training facility," said Bingler who claims neighboring noise disrupts the daily behavior of her horses. "We need to develop the horses. It would render our property, sadly, useless to us as a performance horse training business."

According to John T. Laga, a consultant for SCMS LLC., the neighboring landowner to Bingler's horse farm told Spectrum News 13 that the city staff has supported the project because, in their professional opinion, they "meet all applicable city policies and requirements."

Spectrum News 13 reached out to the city of Winter Garden for comment, but said an interview was not possible. They instead shared the following statement arguing the proposed housing unit is "the least impactful to the neighboring horse farm":

"The project under review for approval consists of 24 homes, whereas 120 homes is allowable. Since the project is less than half the density of what can potentially be built and is the lowest land use agreement in existence in the city, the project is the least impactful to the neighboring horse farm and to our citizens."

City officials have said they have visited the property, which is a part of the review process to greenlight the project. Contingencies to the plan have also been made per Bingler's request to minimize harm, the city of Winter Garden told Spectrum News 13.

However, Bingler would like to see more being done. She argues that it's important to balance green space over future developments.

"Green space has to win," said the troubled horse trainer. "I hope that for once they take into account our farm and our needs to continue to operate."