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HOWEY-IN-THE-HILLS-Thirty miles northwest of Downtown Orlando in hilly Lake County, the 990 permanent residents in this rural town felt safe from vigorous commercial development until Orlando developer Bob Holston came across the quaint area.

Town officials confirm Holston Properties & Development Co. has submitted tentative development plans for The Reserve of Howey-in-the-Hills, a planned 388-acre community that would offer about 650 townhomes and single-family residences; 236 acres of commercial and retail space–but no new school to handle the influx of expected students.

“That’s especially what local residents are concerned over,” a resident who asked for anonymity tells GlobeSt.com. Preserving the area’s green space is also high on the problem list of most residents. But town officials say Holston plans to safeguard the sensitive environment by preserving an additional 149-acre tract along State Road 19, south of the town. The developer also would consider building a school, officials say.

Even if all the required permits and applications are approved, brokers don’t expect the project to break ground earlier than 2006.

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