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SANFORD, FL-With Seminole County commissioner/developer Randall C. “Randy” Morris abstaining, elected officials in this affluent county, seven miles north of Downtown Orlando, have unanimously voted to reject Morris’ planned 133-unit, $50 million Deep Lake townhomes community.

The project is planned in a neighborhood where residents fear the lower-priced townhomes will downgrade values of their high-priced single-family properties. The 14-acre development site is near Tuskawilla Road and Aloma Avenue in southeast Seminole County.

The six-month controversy now heads for Orange Circuit Court where Morris and his partner, Jim Stellings, will argue their project meets all of the county’s regulations, including building on half of the approved density for the area, a Seminole County broker in a position to know tells GlobeSt.com on condition of anonymity.

Morris, Stellings and county commissioners couldn’t be reached at GlobeSt.com’s publication deadline. But staffers at the county’s planning and zoning board confirm to GlobeSt.com that the board had previously recommended approving the project. Morris and Stellings are partners in Aloma Green Development Co.

Atlanta-based Beazer Homes Corp. plans to build and sell the townhomes priced from $115,000 to under $200,000. Residents in the nearby Bear Creek and Trinity Bay subdivisions have told commissioners their homes are valued from $200,000 to $1 million-plus.

The controversy over the project gained intensity when some residents charged Morris was receiving special treatment from county planning and zoning departments each time he inquired about the venture’s status. But Morris and Stellings have told commissioners they submitted their development plans as “ordinary citizens” of the county and didn’t receive or request special service at any time.

Morris has been elected to the county commission three times since 1994 and is active in the county’s growth plans. Stellings is equally well-known as chairman of the Seminole County Republican Executive Committee.

The developers’ original development plans called for 65 townhomes. They later asked for approval on a 180-unit venture which the county denied in September. A compromise of 104 units was also denied this week.

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