Email ThisTweet ThisShare This
Anne Mooney / October 10, 2014 / Read & Input Comments

With pluck, persistence and, sometimes, sheer perversity, Hannibal Square residents have preserved the single-family-detached home zoning protection promised to their neighborhood in the city’s Comprehensive Plan.

It’s been a long slog since that April evening when developer Dan Bellows asked the Planning and Zoning Board (P&Z) to approve sweeping changes to the Comprehensive Plan and Future Land Use codes that would enable him to build a high-priced, high-density project of attached townhouses in an area of the Hannibal Square neighborhood bordered by Canton and Capen Avenues.

The System Worked

The time spanning April 8 until October 7 saw a series of arduous and often acrimonious meetings and negotiations amidst public outcry against rapidly increasing density.

The process was noisy, awkward, and frequently very unpleasant. But in the end, it worked. In a demonstration that, against all odds, the system can work for those who are committed to work within it, Bellows and the community arrived at a compromise.

On October 7, in his fourth attempt, Dan Bellows arrived with a proposal to build 12 detached, single-family homes. And on October 7, Mr. Bellows’ request was approved by P&Z.

Westside community leaders were on hand to thank city staff, the P&Z Board and the developer for bringing the situation to a resolution.

Cambric reported that a meeting had taken place on September 19 at which citizens were able to provide feedback both to the city and to the developer. “We’d like to commend you for hearing what the residents had to say . . . . With your vote at the last meeting, you maintained the concept that single family residential with R-1 zoning is compatible,” said Cambric, “and also commend the applicant for changing your proposal and recognizing that as well.”

Hannibal Square neighborhood resident, Mary Daniels, told the P&Z board and the developer that “We appreciate you all listening to the residents . . . and we also commend the applicant for coming back and retaining the R-1A.”

A Perfect Solution?

Is the solution a perfect one? No. Mr. Bellows will not build the expensive, high-density development he had originally planned, and as a result he will probably not realize the high-end profits he had originally envisioned. The community will now have in its midst a development of 12 homes of at least 2,000 square feet each, which are larger than homes typically found in that neighborhood. But the homes are zoned R-1A – single family, detached -- and in that respect they are in keeping with the surroundings.

Early Days – Agreement Seemed Impossible

When the discussions first began on April 8, the possibility of a meeting of the minds seemed as remote as Pluto. Residents turned out in force that night to speak against the scope of the proposed development, which they felt would erode character of their neighborhood.

First Try Tabled

At the end of the day, P&Z tabled the developer’s proposal and directed the interested parties to meet to work through their issues.

P&Z board member Tom Sacha urged the residents to suggest an alternative to Bellows’ plan so that the property in question would not remain vacant for an indefinite period of time. Mr. Bellows promised to bring illustrations and elevations showing the townhomes he wanted to build. 

Citizens Gather at Community Center: No Bellows

A meeting between Bellows and the Hannibal Square community was scheduled for April 24. Once again, community members turned out in force.

Bellows, however, sent his attorney and the builder, Kevin Kramer from David Weekly Homes.

Bellows himself chose not to attend. The attorney seemed ill-prepared to deal with the frustrated crowd, who were upset by Bellows’ failure to appear.

  Community Center Video 

Second Try Doesn’t Fly

At a subsequent P&Z Board work session on April 29, City Planning Director Dori Stone reported that Bellows had submitted a new set of plans. She made it clear, however, that in light of the community’s strong opposition to any departure from R-1 zoning, she doubted that Mr. Bellows’ new plan would mitigate Westsiders' fear of the impact on their neighborhood.

Standing Room Only Crowd Opposes Sortie #3

In early September, Bellows came before P&Z a third time to seek relief from the R-1A zoning of the Canton/Capen property. This time he requested an upgrade to R-2 zoning, which would allow him to build multi-family dwellings.

That night, a standing-room-only crowd of citizens from every part of Winter Park packed the commission chambers.  In what the Orlando Sentinel termed "the inescapable calculus that gives citizens clout over public policy," citizens rose, one after another, to speak against the creeping encroachment of density and traffic in Winter Park neighborhoods, especially those on the west side of the city. They pointed out that the Comprehensive Plan clearly set forth protections for the single-family, low-density residential character of the Hannibal Square neighborhood.

The P&Z Board members once again heard the citizens’ voices and denied Bellows’ request for re-zoning. 

It was shortly after this meeting, on September 19, that the developer and the community came together and got serious about working out their differences. Fortunately for everyone involved, they succeeded in doing just that.

What about affordable work force housing?

Affordable housing and additional green space were not a part of this discussion. During months of debate over this development and others in the area, citizens have expressed their concern that the city seems to support affordable housing primarily in the form of over-built, rack-‘em-stack-‘em apartment complexes that choke the city with unwanted and inappropriate density of development -- development that is not well supported by the city’s roads and other infrastructure.

Perhaps the Visioning process will provide insight into possible remedies for these growing pains.

  

Read & Input Comments 



You Depend on the Voice for In-Depth News.
We Depend on Readers Like You to Support Our Full Time Reporting.


Please Contribute / Your Support Funds WPV Video & News Research
Winter Park Voice news & video coverage promotes transparency at City Hall. Winter Park Voice readers are able to literally see policy being made and access documents & background reporting that enhance their understanding of the forces that shape our community.

Your Contribution is Applied Where It Matters Most
Virtually all funding received by the Voice is used to support the actual day-to-day cost of reporting on Winter Park policies and issues.

Click Here to Contribute >>

  
site search by freefind
Candid Commentary
from Winter Park Citizens

Maria Bryant
Community Life on Westside is Worth Preserving.
"Right before [ our ] eyes, what we worked for -- what our parents worked for -- is now gone . . .

[ The City told us ] 'We don't want to speak to you -- the people that are so passionate' . . . "[ If ] you're not passionate about where you live . . . what more could you be passionate about? . . . now it's up to the young, the vibrant to keep the legacy . . ."

Click for Video>>


Rodney Kincaid
Long-time WP Builder Reveals Morse Museum's Secret Beginnings.
Owner of Kincaid Construction talks about his 50 years in Winter Park helping build our city, serving on the City's Code Board under 5 mayors and constructing WP landmarks including Miller's Hardware (video 5:12) and the Morse Museum (video 9:30) . . .

Click for Video>>


Peter Gottfried
We Need Development. Change is Good for Winter Park.
"There's going to be some who don't like change -- but you know what? Change is a good thing."

On Serving in City Government: "I get a lot of satisfaction on some of the outcomes that we come up with . . . I like to give back . . ."

On High-Density Development: "I think one of the biggest issues is traffic . . . I can get pretty upset about that . . ."

Click for Video>>


Martha Hall
I Love Winter Park. I've Seen Progress & Heartbreak.
On Westside: "It was a neighborhood with people who loved one another; everyone knew one another, and when they started losing the homes, it just tore the community up . . . Winter Park is a beautiful place to live . . . I just hope things just continue to grow to make Winter Park an inclusive city . . ."

Click for Video>>

Anne Mooney New Editor
of Winter Park Voice




Mooney got her start in New York as a freelance line editor for book publishers, among them Simon & Schuster and the Clarkson Potter division of Crown Books. From New York, she and her husband and their year-old toddler moved to Washington, D.C., where the two ran a newswire service for Harper’s magazine . . .

Read more >>

Winter Park Voice & Winter Park Magazine are Joining Forces

(Click Image to View WP Magazine Online)



Coming Soon


Winter Park Voice will include an “evergreen archive” of feature articles and other offerings from Winter Park Magazine. Winter Park Magazine will include reporting & analysis from the Voice about city policies and issues that affect the daily lives of Winter Parkers.


WPV Columnists

Sally Flynn
City Hall Should Put the Well-Being of Homeowners First. As High-Density Development Accelerates, Our Quality of Life Suffers.
"Am I the only resident in Winter Park who still believes we should be a City of Homes? A city that cares for its residents first before big business and developers? This was the vision of those who founded Winter Park and the reason my family settled here in 1961. We decided to make Winter Park our home because of the ambiance of this city – the eclectic architecture, the lakes, the green spaces, the tree canopy and the warmth of the people we met who shared our values . . .
"
Read More >>

Jack Miles
Open Letter to Mayor and Commissioners Re: The Blueprint for Development in Winter Park.
"Thirteen years ago, Nancy and I had our first dinner on Park Avenue. Interestingly, our server also worked as an appraiser. When I asked her why we should buy a home in Winter Park vs. somewhere else, she was quick and clear. This is a great community with good schools . . . Turns out she gave us good advice. We quickly discovered that the quality of life we enjoy here is the result of the years of effort that went into developing and refining our Comprehensive Plan . . .
"
Read More >>

Gilman Wheeler
The Transformation of Winter Park: We Are All Responsible.
"Winter Park is rapidly being transformed into just another homogenized American city, and we are all responsible.
We now have a mangled tree canopy imposed upon us by our own newly formed Utilities-based Forestry Department . . .
We now have a skyline increasingly dominated by multi-story office buildings, condominiums, and other high density structures; and we have endorsed this development . . .  
"
Read More >>

Rick Swisher
Capen House: Some things are just worth saving. Winter Park’s unique charm is a real privilege that carries with it a certain responsibility.
"In the United States . . . we build for decades, with the mind-set that tearing down buildings is an acceptable practice if it’s necessary to achieve the best value for your dollar . . . Well, that’s not okay in my book. You know, some things are just worth saving, even if it hurts . . . how could the demolition of this piece of architecture even be considered? Well it has, and it is, and it appears that it may be taken from us. So-be-it. I shouldn’t whine about it, but I really don’t like it. Do you? . . .  
"
Read More >>

Jack Miles
Should WP Historic Preservation Policy Depend on Citizens Rising Up to Rescue Threatened Landmarks?
"Attending a Winter Park Commission meeting is always a treat and, similar to Broadway shows, some are comedies, some dramas; this past Monday’s commission meeting was unfortunately a tragedy. It was obvious from the opening that the commissioners were moved, troubled and perhaps annoyed by the community reaction to John and Betsy Pokorny (aka 520 N. INTERLACHEN, LLC) plans to demolish the Capen . . .  
"
Read More >>

Linda Kulmann
James Capen: The Man Behind the House at 520 N. Interlachen Avenue. His Home is Part of Our History.
"Fortunately for our citizens, early Winter Park resident James Seymour Capen was a dreamer, a visionary and a leader. When his close friend and city founder Loring Chase introduced him to Winter Park, Capen envisioned the possibilities this little town could hold for him. He returned to Illinois, closed his business, moved to Winter Park in October of 1884 and built his home on Interlachen Avenue the following year. He gambled on a better life and in turn, lived an interesting . . .  
"
Read More >>

Arthur Blumenthal
In Praise Of The Capen House. What happens to the historic bricks and boards of our city happens also in the hearts of our citizens.
"I speak for many Winter Park citizens who are stunned to learn that one of our historic treasures is about to be bulldozed. The Capen House, built in 1885, with its elegant lines and sweeping yard---will vanish in a matter of weeks. Yes, vanish, even after being placed on the Winter Park Register of Historic Places in 2011 . . .  
"
Read More >>

John Skolfield
The Yards, Gardens & Well-Used Porches on Our Historic Westside Will Always Matter.
"For more than a century, the west side of Winter Park has been a neighborhood of small, working-class homes. It's a part of town where people talk across the back fence and children ride their bikes in the streets and run in and out of the neighbors' houses . . . a place where people actually sit in those rocking chairs on the front porch to relax after a day's work. Recently, however, an effort has emerged to drastically alter this . . .  
"
Read More >>

Sara Whiting
Enlarging Central Park: A New Chance to Enhance the Green, Vibrant Center of Our City Life.
"I ask you, dear reader -- what visual comes to mind when you think of your town of Winter Park? To me, it's our Central Park. I visualize the verdant expanse of grass, flowering bushes, and moss-covered oak trees shading the fountains, the benches, and the people. People sitting and talking. People pushing strollers . . . Central Park is the nucleus of our town .
 . ."
Read More >>

Owen Beitsch
Another Look at Ravaudage: Balancing the Costs and the Benefits.
"On Tuesday morning of this week, the Economic Development Advisory Board (EDAB) of Winter Park met to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of approving a Community Development District (CDD) . . . Given the visibility and scale of this project, I believe it is worthwhile to amplify certain remarks I made on the record in the course of the normal EDAB meeting .
 . ."
Read More >>

Jack Miles
Developers Should Not Be Financed by Taxpayers
"Development should be able to stand on its own and if planned and done well benefits all. The City of Winter Park has no business being a “partner” in development when the potential for benefit is to the developer and .
 . ."
Read More >>

Brian McGratty
The Essence of Winter Park for Every Resident
"The last few weeks have given me the opportunity to pause and reflect on everything that Winter Park has to offer its residents, visitors and businesses. Why do we call Winter Park home? What keeps us here? The obvious answer .
 . ."
Read More >>

Geri Throne
Do City Leaders Understand that “Quality of Life” is the Essence of Winter Park?
"The Winter Park YMCA's anticipated triumph at City Hall this Monday reveals more than the political influence of that organization. It exposes a startling shift in our city leaders' vision for Winter Park's future .
 . ."
Read More >>



Phil Eschbach
Tree Ordinance Changes Challenge Our Values
"We are at a turning point with regard to the new tree ordinance being proposed. It should be posted online at the city’s site. Marc Hagle’s recent piece on this subject is spot on. Basically the new ordinance that replaces the old one will drastically change in one vital respect . . .”
 
Read More >>


Marc Hagle
Tree Preservation -- Protecting a Precious Resource
"Some years ago I was asked to be the chairman of a sub-committee that would be responsible for writing Winter Park's Tree Preservation Ordinance. The ordinance that's presently on the books is a product of the subcommittee I chaired
 . . .”
 
Read More >>



Steve Goldman
Making Room for All Perspectives, Civility & Respect
"Winter Park has always been blessed with an abundance of beautiful lakes, beautiful trees, and beautiful people. Unfortunately, there is one commodity which is not so abundant – reliable unbiased information 
. . .”
 
Read More >>