MONTVERDE – The Montverde City Council on Tuesday will discuss a request to annex 117 acres dubbed Blackstill East that some believe could change the town forever – and not for the better.

Proponents of the plan, however, argue that the revenue – in the form of impact fees, ad valorem taxes, sewer and water hook-up and fire assessment fees for its 234 homes – is hard to pass up.

The property is located just outside the town’s limits on the corner of Fosgate and Blackstill Lake Road, across from the upscale Bella Collina and the Trails of Montverde, near Florida’s Turnpike.

“The anticipated average price of a home in Blackstill East is $285,000, based on the sale price of the new constructed homes in the area. Using the worst case scenario that all the homes have homestead exemption, we estimate the taxable value to be $200,000 and based on this, the ad valorem taxes Montverde would receive is around $130,000 per year,” Mayor Joe Wynkoop summarized in a note to residents on the town’s website.

“So the construction part of the revenue will bring in around $1,872,000 over three years and the yearly revenues when completed will come in around $148,700 plus what our engineer adds with water and sewage revenues.”

If Montverde doesn’t go through with the annexation, they may lose more than just money.

“For me it all comes down to if we do not choose to annex this in, we open the door for Lake County or Minneola to take control and of course neither of these entities will have Montverde or its residents in their best interest,” Wynkoop said.

Montverde's council has first refusal on the annexation before it can be considered by another entity.

“People need to understand that it’s the lesser of two evils if we annex it in and manage it ourselves,” Wynkoop said, explaining that should the annexation request end up in front of another council or commission, the developer could ask for, and receive, a higher density on the number of homes, meaning more traffic, more people, more problems and no control in how things get done.

A 2009 development concept shows that Blackstill East’s original proposal called for only 114 homes.

As it stands now, Pineloch Management Corporation, Blackstill East’s developer, first approached Montverde officials about annexing in April. Three workshops followed, but at that time, the proposed number of homes was 283, with smaller lot sizes.

The deal on the table now is a $250,000 down payment from the developer and 234 homes on approximate half-acre lots.

If not annexed, the down payment must be returned.

Wynkoop said even though residents had the opportunity to attend the workshops and a subsequent council meeting on the matter, many are just now reacting to the annexation proposal and what it could mean for Montverde.

Wynkoop said residents may speak Tuesday, but a vote will not be taken until Oct. 18 during a special meeting planned for that purpose.

One resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said he believes the council may be rushing into the annexation and should consider long-range costs and affordability.

“As I see it, I don’t think that people want this kind of development but even more, I don’t think the town council has counted the true cost of this new subdivision in the long run,” he said. “I think they are jumping on what they think, or appears to be, a good source of revenue for them but it’s kind of like affordable health care where we’ve got to hurry up and pass this before we know what’s really in it.”

Montverde has about 1,500 residents. Should Blackstill East be annexed, the population, and number of homes, would increase significantly.

Town Council Vice President Glenn Burns, when asked about the annexation, would only say, “The whole thing makes me sick.”

Councilman Jim Peacock said he is looking forward to hearing the views of town residents before making a final decision.

“I’m on the fence about this because any decision we make is a bad decision in my opinion. If we annex the property, we have to accept a higher density than we normally would allow. If we don’t annex it, the developer will probably go back to the county, request a higher density and get it anyway, so then we’d lose the revenue and decision making power we’d have had by annexing it,” Peacock said.

What Peacock said he does know for certain, is that growth in and around Montverde is inevitable.

“We think that with the new Turnpike interchange (Minneola) happening, the property in this whole surrounding area is going to be developed, which is a shame really. Montverde is going to grow and short of moving, there’s nothing we can do about it,” Peacock added. “It would just be nice if we had some say in how that happens, but either way, Montverde is not broke. We don’t need this development to survive.”