Pick for Top Cop Pulls Out

While Police Cars Get a New Look

Pick for Top Cop Pulls Out

Winter Park’s pick for Top Cop, Dallas Police Department Narcotics Division Deputy Chief Vernon Hale, announced over the weekend that he has withdrawn his name from consideration. This leaves the post open as Brett Railey begins his final week as Chief of Police of the city he has served for nearly 35 years.

The news leaked out during the August 22 Commission meeting. No reason was given for Hale’s change of heart – simply that he “had changed his mind.” In a subsequent interview, Chief Railey told the Voice that the City has a sizeable pool of well-qualified applicants from which to draw, and that he expected a new Chief will be announced soon.

Whoever Railey’s successor turns out to be, he’ll have a big pair of shoes to fill – and some decorating to do.


Older vs Bolder

Are These the Cars of Arts & Culture?

Previously, during Commissioner reports at the end of the August 8 Commission meeting, Commissioner Sarah Sprinkel reported that she had seen a strange looking police car in a Publix parking lot. While the paint job identified the vehicle, a small SUV, as a Winter Park police car, Sprinkel was taken aback by the new paint job.

It turned out that some of the younger officers had approached Railey with the notion that the old paint job on the police sedans looked a little, well, stodgy. “Too Nineties.” Here is Chief Railey describing what happened when he challenged the officers to come up with a new look.

Once the design was approved by City Manager Randy Knight and senior staff at the police department, all new vehicles were slated to have the new look. Winter Park now boasts eight small SUVs with the new design.

“Not My Favorite,” says Leary

“The police cars are some of our most visible branding devices,” said Mayor Steve Leary. “And I don’t think that paint scheme, that detail, matches anything else we’re doing in the city of Winter Park.” Leary went on to explain that there should be a “more consolidated view” of branding, and directed the City Communications Department to become more involved in the design of the new cars.

Railey responded, “That’s an understandable concern that you may have,” and suggested the Commission direct the City Manager to direct the new Police Chief to change the paint job moving forward.

Clerk Declares Library Petition Insufficient

Petitioners’ Appeal Fails to Sway Commission

Clerk Declares Library Petition Insufficient

city-and-library-logo-scalesIn a Certificate of Insufficiency dated July 28, 2016, City Clerk Cynthia Bonham denied the validity of the citizens petition that seeks to prevent a new library from being built in Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) Park. On August 8, the committee appealed that decision to the Commission, which upheld the finding of the City Clerk.

Petition ‘Insufficient’ for Three Reasons

Each of the three reasons for insufficiency contains the following language.
“Despite being labeled a citizen initiative, the Petition requires the reconsideration of City Ordinance No. 3020-15 enacted on November 23, 2015, and the City Commission’s affirmative votes to locate the library and events center in Martin Luther King, Jr. Park occurring at the City Commission meeting occurring on or about October 26, 2015.” [Emphasis Added]
For the full text, go to pages 69-70 of the August 8, 2016, Commission Agenda Packet. agdpkt-2016-08-08.pdf

Law + Motion = Confusion

Speaking on behalf of the petitioners, Attorney Virginia Cassady of the firm Shepard, Smith & Cassady P.A., described what she saw as the fallacy in the reasoning contained in the Certificate of Insufficiency. An ordinance carries the weight of law, while a vote by the Commission does not. “Essentially,” said Cassady, “it’s bootstrapping a vote by you [the Commission] to the ordinance that was adopted and passed in November, when in the ordinance itself there is absolutely no mention of MLK Park.”

Does Library Have to be in MLK Park?

Both the City Attorney and the City Manager have said on several occasions that the library/events center could be built somewhere other than MLK Park. Rather than trying to overturn the bond referendum, the petitioners seek an alternate location for the library.
For the full text, go to page123 of the Agenda Packet at the above link.

‘Initiative’ or ‘Referendum’?

The conflict between the petitioners’ committee and the City arises from the City’s position that the petition constitutes a Referendum, referred to in Section 5.02 of the City Charter, rather than an Initiative, as described in Section 5.01.
(See link above, page 129 of the Agenda Packet, for the Charter text.)

Basically, a Referendum requires the Commission to reconsider (i.e., overturn) an ordinance that has already been adopted.

An Initiative gives voters the right to submit their own proposed ordinance to the Commission. If the Commission fails to adopt the proposed ordinance, the ordinance must be taken to a full city election to be adopted or rejected.

City Attorney Offers No Written Guidance

Interestingly, the question of whether the petition is an initiative or a referendum is a legal determination. Yet, only the City Clerk has spoken. No legal opinion from Attorney Ardaman appears in the August 8 Agenda Packet.

City Attorney Has Some Advice for the City Clerk

In a memo dated May 8, 2016, the City Attorney writes to the City Clerk, “. . .if you conclude that the Petitioners Committee Affidavit and proposed ordinance constitute a Referendum as described under Section 5.02 of the Charter rather than an Initiative under Section 5.01 of the Charter, rather than waiting until after Mr. Poole and the Petitioner’s Committee expend substantial effort to obtain the signed petitions, the following response to Mr. Poole would be appropriate.”

While Attorney Ardaman encouraged the City Clerk to draw her own conclusions, he was kind enough to word the memo for her.

“Mr. Poole,” reads the memo. “The request for petition forms that you submitted to me as the Winter Park City Clerk on Friday, April 29, 2016, is not timely as the petition forms you have requested are based on a Petitioner’s Committee Affidavit and ordinance which appear to constitute a reconsideration or referendum to repeal Ordinance No. ____ and the City Commission’s decision to locate the library and events center in Martin Luther King Park, where the Ordinance was adopted November 23, 2015. Referendum petitions must be filed within 30 days after adoption of the ordinance to be reconsidered.”

Ardaman’s Charge to the Commission

Ardaman’s explanation of the task before the Commission was clear and simple – either uphold or overturn the City Clerk’s Certificate of Insufficiency.

As the Commissioners deliberated, there ensued considerable discussion, concluding with each Commissioner stating his or her position and the reasoning behind it.

Seidel: “This Vote Doesn’t Change the Process”

“I am assuming you are here with your attorney because you intend to take the next step,” said Commissioner Greg Seidel. “So, to me, what happens with this vote doesn’t really change what’s going to happen with the process.” Seidel voted to uphold the petitioners’ appeal.

Sprinkel Defers to City Attorney

“I’m going to support our City,” said Commissioner Sarah Sprinkel, “because I’m following the advice of our attorney.” Sprinkel voted to deny the petitioners’ appeal.

Cooper: “It is a Citizens Petition”

“I also do not believe it reverses the vote on the library,” said Commissioner Carolyn Cooper. “I believe the citizens of Winter Park voted to approve a referendum of up to $30 million to build a new library.” Cooper voted to uphold the petitioners’ appeal.

Weldon: “There Will Be No End to the Lawsuits”

“I have tried to put myself in a position of perspective as to what is the best long-term decision for the City of Winter Park,” said Commissioner Peter Weldon, who voted to deny the petitioners’ appeal.

Leary: “The Petitioners Were Informed Early On . . .”

Mayor Steve Leary stated, “The petitioners were informed early on that this petition was invalid.” Leary cast the deciding vote to deny the petitioners’ appeal.

Cooper Appeals to Commissioners to Let Citizens Choose

In her concluding remarks during the Commissioner’s Report, Commissioner Carolyn Cooper asked the others seated on the dais if it might be possible to allow the residents to vote on the location of the library – to put the issue to rest. “I honestly don’t think it would hurt anything,” said Cooper, “and I believe the people of this city honestly want a new library.”

How Shall We Grow?

Comp Plan Review Begins — Should You Care?

How Shall We Grow?

homepage-button-comp-planThe Comprehensive Plan review has begun in earnest.

The Comprehensive Plan – a.k.a the Comp Plan – is described by the City Communications Department as “the document that governs the City’s plans for growth through policies that guide development.”

Comp Plan = City Blueprint

The policies set forth in the Comp Plan protect and improve our city assets and provide for city infrastructure. In terms of importance to the city, the Comp Plan is second only to the City Charter. The Comp Plan is required by Florida Statute, Chapter 163.3161, and is given legal status mandating that public and private development must comply with the Comp Plan.

Deadline for Completion – 2/1/2017

The Comp Plan is updated every seven years to ensure it is in compliance with Florida statutes. Last reviewed in 2009, an update it is now due. The Commission has until February 1, 2017, to approve the Comp Plan and send a final version to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity in Tallahassee.

The City Planning Department will spearhead the review, with the assistance of the Comprehensive Plan Task Force — Nancy Miles, Laura Turner and Marc Reicher — and the City advisory boards that oversee the various elements of the Plan.

Don’t Give Up – Keep Reading (or skip this section and come back to it)

The Comp Plan consists of two major documents. The one entitled “Goals, Objectives and Policies” (GOP) is adopted by the Commission and carries the weight of law. The information from which the GOP derives is in a support document entitled “Data, Information and Analysis” (DIA). In our current Comp Plan, the GOPs and DIAs are organized into nine chapters, or ‘elements.’

Future Land Use – Includes map of land use allowed on every property in Winter Park.
Transportation – Addresses roadways, sidewalks, buses, rail and biking and walking trails.
Housing – Includes projection of future population.
Public Facilities – Infrastructure services such as sanitary sewer, solid waste disposal, potable (drinkable) water and storm water drainage.
Conservation – Defines conservation lands, air and water quality and water conservation.
Recreation and Open Space – Plans and policies to meet projects need for parkland and open space. Current level of service requires 10 acres of publicly owned park and conservation land per 1,000 residents.
Capital Improvements – This element is updated annually as part of the City budget process and includes all infrastructure required to support the population.
Intergovernmental Coordination – Outlines the City’s agreement with other government entities such as the FL Department of Transportation, Orange County School Board, St. John’s Water Management District and surrounding municipalities and counties.
Public Schools – Reflects agreement with Orange County Public Schools to provide facilities to serve resident school-aged children.

You Still Awake?

As always, the devil is in the details. Here is one example. If you go to the City website and click the “Comprehensive Plan” icon on the main page, it will take you to the Comp Plan. Under “Data, Analysis and Inventories” is a chart listing all parks and the precise acreage of each. The total acreage listed there is 296.45 acres.

A document distributed by City Planning Director Dori Stone at the August 1, 2016 meeting of the Comp Plan Task Force, entitled “Park Level of Service Standards,” states Winter Park’s park and conservation land at a total of 346.16 acres.

Where Did That 50 Acres Come From?

On August 5, the City Communications Department wrote to the Voice, “Staff will need to research the differential in total acres. GIS is a factor, some new parcels were added, i.e., the West Meadow, and we need to research what others resulted in the difference.”

GIS, by the way, stands for Geographic Information System, which is a more accurate way of measuring land area. Even with GIS, however, as of this writing we are still not sure about those 50 acres. Part of the Comp Plan review process will be to manage discrepancies of this sort.

Why Does 50 Acres Matter?

At a level of service of 10 acres of park and conservation land per 1,000 residents, 346.16 acres would support a population of 34,616. (Winter Park population estimate as of 2015 stands at 28,967.) Since Winter Park is landlocked, how would we fit another 5,000 to 6,000 people? By increasing density. Where would we increase density? In those single-family residential neighborhoods the Comp Plan is meant to protect?

Is the Comp Plan Review Important to You?

If you care how this city will look in two or five or seven years, it is important. The Voice will post updates as the review process moves from Advisory Board to Advisory Board under the guidance of City staff and the Comp Plan Task Force. A “2016 Comprehensive Plan Timeline” is posted on the city website. 2016-comprehensive-plan-timeline.pdf
The City will update the schedule as necessary, and all meetings are open to the public.

As technical and wonky as it may seem, the Comp Plan review affects how we live. It is worthy of our attention. In the words of Commissioner Carolyn Cooper, our Comp Plan is “a contract between the residents of Winter Park and our government that defines how and where we will grow and what level of public services we will enjoy for the taxes we pay.”

We Depend on Your Support

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