Anne Mooney

Entries by Anne Mooney

Marathon Monday Stretches into Terrible Tuesday

Meeting Will Continue on Thursday, Jan. 16

Marathon Monday Stretches into Terrible Tuesday

by Anne Mooney / January 14, 2020

Yesterday’s estimate of a five-and-a-half-hour Commission meeting missed the mark by a mile. For an unprecedented 11 hours, Commissioners struggled to make sense of two of the largest projects ever undertaken by this city – and failed.

OAO Discussion Continued to Thursday, Jan. 16

At 2:45 a.m., Commissioner Greg Seidel finally moved to pull the plug on the meeting, and the Commission agreed to ‘continue’ the Orange Avenue Overlay discussion on Thursday, January 16, at 11:00 a.m. Commissioners were advised to block out approximately four hours for the Thursday meeting.

At Thursday’s Continuance, Commissioners will vote on somewhere between 40 and 50 proposed amendments to the OAO ordinances.

As of this writing, the Thursday meeting is not on the January schedule of City meetings. Check the City website for updates or changes in dates and times. www.cityofwinterpark.org

Canopy Project

Earlier in the evening, the Canopy project met a similar fate. After an extended but inconclusive back-and-forth with the owner’s representative and the contractor, Brasfield & Gorrie, followed by the customary back-and-forth among the Commissioners regarding the Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP), the item was tabled until the January 27 Commission meeting.

Commissioner Greg Seidel requested a Commission workshop to discuss such items as the contingency fund and possible sources of funds for the project. Likely funding sources include issuing the remaining $2 Million in bonds, the CRA, and the City’s General Fund. To date, the City has raised only about $2 Million of the promised $5.4 Million in donations.

Seidel also requested the results of Brasfield & Gorrie’s latest three large projects, to compare the (GMP) with actual costs upon delivery.

Agenda Angst

How the Canopy project and the Orange Avenue Overlay ended up on the same agenda is anyone’s guess, though there must be someone at City Hall who knows. The sheer volume of discussion and the number of amendments proposed is a clear indication that neither project is at a point where sufficient information has been digested for the Commission to come to a decision. The City needs to finish baking these cakes before anyone else cuts into them.

Record Crowd – Citizens Turned Away

Hundreds of people showed up at City Hall to listen or to speak. The building, including the downstairs lobby, was at capacity, and many citizens had to be turned away. Communications Director Clarissa Howard went through the crowd in the lobby and escorted those who wanted to speak up to the Commission Chambers and, in most cases, secured seating for them.

A Suggestion

Last night’s meeting demonstrated the folly of putting two mega-projects – especially ones around which there is a lot of positive and negative energy – on the same agenda.

The suggestion is the crafting of an ordinance that states, when a meeting is scheduled on a date certain, the meeting must be called to order and adjourned upon that date.

 

Marathon Monday

Coming Tomorrow to the City Hall Nearest You

Marathon Monday

by Anne Mooney / January 12, 2020

Doesn’t matter what your position is on any of the of issues that will be addressed the afternoon and evening of Monday January 13 by the Winter Park City Commission – while we won’t suffer in silence, we will all suffer together.

Five-and-a-half Hours – Minimum

The number of minutes projected on the January 13 Agenda on the City website comes to five hours and 35 minutes. Not included in the time projections are all the preliminary stuff like the Pledge of Allegiance and the Mayor’s report, closing remarks by Commissioners and . . . Public Comment.

City Manager’s Report

Estimated at 5 minutes, this report has no fewer than 23 items on it, 10 of which are slated to happen in January. Randy Knight is good at what he does, but he’ll have to employ some advanced ‘speed-dating’ tactics to get through this one in five minutes.

Consent Agenda – Progress Point

This one – nine minutes – lists five types of items. Under “Approve the Following Contract Items” (one minute) is a contract for $89,765 to demolish the building at Progress Point. Last time this came up, the discussion lasted considerably longer than one minute.

Action Items Requiring Discussion – The Canopy

First on this list is – yep – Final Approval of The Canopy. This is the long-awaited “Guaranteed Maximum Price.” The agenda framers have allotted an hour and a half for this topic. Maybe they could get through it in 90 minutes – but only if there is no public comment. And what are the chances of that?

Public Hearings – Orange Avenue Overlay

In the grand old tradition of saving the best til last, #4 on the list of four items is The Orange Avenue Overlay – for three hours. Two ordinances, one to amend the Comprehensive Plan, and the other to amend the Land Development Code, will go through a first reading. If they are approved, they will go to Tallahassee for review and then return to Winter Park for the second and final reading in late January or early February.

The Orange Avenue Overlay concept has gone through more than 20 public meetings, workshops and walkshops. People who normally go quietly about their business have been spewing out emails and firing word-bullets back and forth for months. The pro and con camps are about evenly split, neither one is quiet, and many of them will be at this meeting.

The second 13.1 miles of the race begins here, on Orange Ave. Everyone will be tired. Perhaps it would help us to remember we are all neighbors, living together in one of the most desirable places on earth, and to treat one another accordingly.

Parks Protected in Perpetuity

Citizen Activists Made Sure 122 Acres of Parkland Remains Green

Parks Protected in Perpetuity

by Anne Mooney / January 10, 2020

In an economic climate in which developers threaten to gobble up every square inch of open land, a hearty band of Winter Parkers deserves our gratitude for making sure our largest parks are protected from development and will remain forever green.

Six Winter Park citizens – Michael Poole, Charley Williams, Peter Gottfried, Marty Sullivan, Forest Michael and Kim Allen – have worked tirelessly since May of 2016 to make sure the city government took the necessary steps to preserve five of our largest parks for “outdoor recreation in perpetuity.”

The five parks – Phelps Park, Lake Baldwin Park, Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, the Community Center swimming pool and Temple Trail – had received money from the Florida Recreation Development Assistance Program (FRDAP). This program provides state funds to municipal and county governments to acquire or develop lands for public outdoor recreation.

The FRDAP grant comes with a condition. For each park receiving a grant, a deed restriction for the park must be filed with the Orange County government pledging that the site is dedicated to “outdoor recreation in perpetuity.”  Over the years, beginning in 1974 with Lake Baldwin Park (a/k/a Dog Park), money was dispersed and work was done, but the deed restrictions fell through the cracks, leaving open the door to disposal and/or development of some 122 acres of parkland.

When the citizen group learned in 2016 that deed restrictions and site dedications had not been filed for these parks, they brought the matter to the attention of the City and of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP).

The happy ending to this story is that, after three and a half years of phone calls, emails, letters and meetings, Kim Allen received notification from the FDEP that the deeds were filed and the parks protected.

The email read: “Good Morning . . . and Happy New Year! I am . . . sending this email to let you know that the City of Winter Park recorded the following Notices of Limitation of Use – Site Dedications, for the projects listed below [i.e., the five parks], with the Orange County Clerk of Courts office. Thank you for your continued patience working with our team and the city to secure these recordings.” The email was signed by Angela Bright, Community Assistance Consultant, Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

Credit goes to Brenda Moody of the Winter Park Public Works Department, who performed the exacting task of making sure the paperwork was properly completed and filed with the county and state agencies.

This kind of behind-the-scenes dedication and dogged determination by citizens who are just like everyone else – with jobs and families and busy lives – is what makes Winter Park such a special place to live. The same tactics that worked for John Muir and Teddy Roosevelt to establish the national park system worked for our very own neighbors. We should be both proud and grateful.

 

Get Ready to Vote

Get Ready to Vote

by Anne Mooney / January 9, 2020

Okay Winter Park Voters, it’s time to get our ducks in a row. This election season is off to a lively start, with four well-qualified candidates for City Commission. In the unlikely event you’ve forgotten, they are (in alpha order) Jeffrey Blydenburgh, Carl Creasman, Sheila DeCiccio and Marty Sullivan.

But wait, there’s more.

This year’s ballot is going to be chock-full of choices for you to make – from the national scene to the Winter Park City Charter to the City Commission seats alluded to above. Here are the dates on which the election process will play out. Special thanks to Charley Williams for gathering this information from the Orange County Supervisor of Elections.

Winter Park Municipal Election — March 17, 2020

February 1 – Overseas Ballots Mailed to Military Personnel posted abroad

February 6 – Vote by Mail ballots go out

February 18 – Voter Registration Deadline

February 25 – Sample ballots mailed out

Note: if you don’t vote, you lose your right to complain, a sacred privilege most Winter Parkers could not do without.

March 2 – Early Voting begins @Winter Park Public Library, every day, 10:00 am to 6:00 pm

March 7 – Deadline to request your Vote by Mail ballot

March 15 – Early voting ends

March 17 – ELECTION DAY — POLLS OPEN 7:00 am to 7:00 pm.

Winter Park municipal elections are non-partisan and open to all voters — Democrat, Republican or NPA (no party affiliation). In addition to Commission races for Seats #1 and #2, there will be 11 Charter Amendment questions on the ballot. In advance of Election Day, the Voice will publish the details. If you don’t want to wait for us, check the City website at www.cityofwinterpark.org for complete information.

If you want to Vote by Mail, you must renew your request every four years. If the last time you requested a Vote by Mail ballot was 2016 or earlier, you have until March 7 to renew your request.

If you have questions, the folks at the Orange County Elections Office are courteous and helpful. Give them a call at 407-836-2070.

Meet the Candidates

Meet the Candidates

Candidates for Commission Seats #1 and #2 Introduce Themselves to You, the Voters

Winter Park is fortunate to have a full slate of candidates for Commission Seats #1 and #2 being vacated by Greg Seidel and Sarah Sprinkel, who have given so generously of their time and effort over the years. While these are large shoes to fill, the candidates seeking to step in bring a wealth of civic and professional experience and accomplishment. As voters, we owe a debt of gratitude to all six people – to Greg and Sarah for their service to our City, and to the four candidates for their commitment and willingness to serve.

Jeffrey Blydenburgh – Seat #1

“It’s time to give back.”

Jeffrey and Caroline Blydenburgh have lived in Winter Park since 1997. Over the years, Blydenburgh served the community in many capacities. He was Vice Chair of the 2016 Visioning Committee, Board President at Mead Botanical Garden, 2018-19 president of Rotary and board member of the Rollins College Winter Park Institute. He also served as Vice Chair of the Jobs Partnership, a local organization that helps the working poor in our community progress to family-sustainable employment.

Blydenburgh stated as his reason for running for City Commission, “This community has given so much to us. It was time to give back. I am at a time and place in my life that I can use my skills as architect and planner to bring a creative and inclusive approach to the city commission.”

Blydenburgh wrote that, if elected, he would seek to bring a culture of listening and respect to all aspects of Winter Park’s local government. “I think residents will find me to always have an open door,” he wrote, “and be willing to hear any resident’s viewpoint and make a good judgment on their behalf.”

He cited four major questions he believes are facing Winter Park.

Civility – “We may not always agree,” he wrote, “but Everyone in Winter Park deserves respect and deserves to be heard.”

Crime “We can have no tolerance for crime of any kind in Winter Park. When I’m a City Commissioner, I’m going to ensure that law enforcement has the resources and tools they need to keep us safe.”

Traffic – “Traffic is washing over us in Winter Park. As an architect and designer, I bring a unique perspective to this issue.”

Growth – “My rule of thumb when it comes to growth and development is – does it protect or harm the unique charm of Winter Park? Is it good for our residents – all our residents?”

Jeffrey’s campaign website is www.jeffreyblydenburgh.com and his Facebook page is www.facebook.com/Jeffrey Blydenburgh for Winter Park

His kickoff party is Sunday, January 5, 3:00 to 5:00 pm at Mead Botanical Garden.

James (Marty) Sullivan – Seat #1

“We must improve pathways of communication with citizens for greater city government transparency.”

Marty Sullivan is a fifth-generation Floridian, a Navy veteran and an environmental and geotechnical engineer. He and his wife Maura Smith have lived in their historically designated Winter Park home for 33 years. As outdoor enthusiasts, they are keenly aware of the impact humans exert on fragile Florida ecosystems and of the need for each of us to take responsibility for safeguarding the environment that sustains us.

 

Sullivan has served on numerous city boards, including Lakes & Waterways, Orange County Public Works Advisory Board, and as chair of the Winter Park Utilities Advisory Board during the purchase of the utilities company in the early 2000s. From 2017 – 2019, he was Statewide Natural Resources Director for the League of Women Voters.

Sullivan’s campaign is built on four pillars of integrity, commitment, experience and tradition.

Of integrity, he wrote, “I am truly independent, with no obligation to any corporation, industry, company or special interest.” He continued, “I am committed to maintaining our quality of life by addressing scaled development, protecting park lands, and our transportation hierarchy of 1) pedestrians, 2) bicycles, 3) transit and 4) private vehicles.”

“I have experience serving on numerous boards at the state, county and city levels. My professional experience includes engineering in the fields of software development, geotechnical engineering and environmental engineering.”

Finally, “As a fifth generation Floridian, I understand the importance of preserving tradition and ensuring that Winter Park remains a premier historic village.”

“Our overarching challenge,” wrote Sullivan, “is to enhance our quality of life through City government transparency by improving our pathways of communication with our citizens.”

Marty’s campaign website is www.Marty4WP.com .Facebook is www.facebook.com/Marty4WP

His kickoff party is Wednesday, January 15, 6:30 pm at Mead Botanical Garden.

Carl Creasman – Seat #2

“We must confront the future with an openness that is welcoming, not exclusionary.”

Carl Creasman and his wife Kim have lived in Winter Park for 26 years. Creasman’s life’s work has been in the non-profit sector, in religious institutions and in higher education. He joined the Valencia College faculty in 2002 as a history professor. In 2013, he was elected President of the Faculty Senate for the East Campus, and the following year he became College-wide Faculty Association President. He also chaired the Winter Park Parks & Recreation Advisory Board.

Creasman has a list of things he’d like to accomplish as Commissioner in Seat #2. Foremost among them is “demonstrating principled leadership based on values and virtue, which includes listening well to others.” He wrote that he plans to, “uncover and support ‘next best step’ solutions that are strategic in nature, not only pointing the city toward 2020, but to 2070 and onward.”

In a more practical vein, he said he would like to realize the following accomplishments, if he is elected.

Support and protect greenspace by investing in and expanding our parks.

Complete the refurbishment of MLK Park, first approved in 2017.

Confront growing connectivity and traffic concerns.

Carry forward Commissioner Greg Seidel’s plan to create a city-wide traffic plan using FDOT Geographic Information System (GIS) data.

Create a city-owned transit system similar to that now on trial in Lake Nona.

Develop a master plan for the remaining years of the CRA that puts the focus on people.

“Within our city proper,” wrote Creasman, “the narrower set of questions [we face] starts with how to handle being one of the fastest growing regions in the country. Winter Park lies in the center of the region, and cars and people will continue to come.” 

“Another question,” he continued, “would be whether Winter Park is taking its place as a regional leader . . . in addressing issues of public safety, of growing mental health issues and of equity in terms of accessible housing and appropriate pay for those who work in our city.”

“Finally,” he wrote, “. . . are we doing enough to protect the future charm of Winter Park, while maintaining codes and policies that will encourage businesses and entrepreneurs to flourish. If we stifle business and growth with overly restrictive rules, we risk harming our local economy.”

Carl’s campaign website is www.CarlforCommissioner.com . His Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/creasmancampaign/

His kickoff party is tentatively set for January 15. Check the campaign website for time and location.

Sheila DeCiccio – Seat #2

“We are the stewards for the next generation.”

Sheila DeCiccio is an attorney, civic leader, wife and mother. She and her husband Dan have lived in Winter Park for 37 years. After a stint as Assistant District Attorney in Boston, DeCiccio moved to Orlando, where she became the first woman partner in the law firm Lowndes, Drosdick, Doster, Kantor & Reed. She completed her career as business manager for the DeCiccio & Johnson law firm in Winter Park.

DeCiccio has extensive city board experience, having served on P&Z, Code Enforcement and, currently, on Economic Development Advisory Board. Her community activities include Rotary, Winter Park Land Trust, Orlando Museum of Art’s Council of 101, Winter Park History Museum and St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church.

DeCiccio said she decided to run for office so that she could represent the residents when decisions are made at City Hall. “We are the stewards for the next generations,” she wrote, “and it’s up to us to protect our City.” She has recently retired from her legal career and is able to devote herself full-time to serving the interests of Winter Park residents.

If elected, DeCiccio pledges to advocate for wise development that is compatible with the charm and scale of Winter Park. She will work to ensure fiscal accountability and enhanced transparency within city government so residents know how and where city funds are being used. She will work to make sure the police and fire departments ae adequately staffed and funded – without raising taxes.

In answer to the question about what major questions Winter Park faces, DeCiccio describes comments and questions she has heard from citizens as she has walked neighborhoods and attended meet-and-greets. These citizen concerns will be her guide as a City Commissioner, she says.

Probably the greatest concern she hears about is traffic. Residents want to know what can be done to improve the traffic flow in Winter Park. Another question she hears is, does Winter Park really want to become a major tourist destination? “Residents don’t seem to share the current City leaders’ desire for more tourists in Winter Park,” she wrote.

Residents express their fears about over-development, and they wonder if their voices really are heard at City Hall, despite lip service assuring them. “They tell me that they often feel the Commissioners have already made up their minds before the public has had a chance to voice their concerns,” wrote DeCiccio. “If elected, I promise to listen to the residents and to make sure their voices are fully represented when we make decisions at City Hall.”

Sheila’s campaign website is www.SheilaforWinterPark.com

Her Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/sheilaforwinterpark/

Her kickoff party is Tuesday, January 7, 6:00 pm, at Mead Botanical Garden.

 

 

Four Candidates to Run for City Commission

Four Candidates to Run for City Commission

by Geri Throne / December 11, 2019

Winter Park will have a full slate of candidates when its city election is held March 17. As qualifying closed Tuesday, four candidates had qualified for the two open city commission seats.

Jeffrey Blydenburgh and James “Marty” Sullivan both qualified for Seat 1, now held by Commissioner Greg Seidel, who did not run for reelection. Carl E. Creasman Jr. and Sheila DeCiccio qualified to run for Seat 2, now held by Sarah Sprinkel, who also did not run for reelection.

SEAT 1

Marty Sullivan, 72, said he decided to run because “I served on a lot of boards in the city and really enjoy the town. I believe the city is at a juncture where we want citizens to cooperate with business and development to make it a win-win for all three, with particular attention to citizens.” Sullivan, whose profession was in environmental and geotechnical engineering, is retired and has lived in the city 37 years. Among the city boards we served on were the Utility Advisory Board, Stormwater Board of Appeals and Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Board, all of which he chaired, and the Lakes and Waterways Advisory Board and Transportation Task Force.

Jeffrey Blydenburgh, 71, a retired architect and planner, has lived in the city 22 years. “I saw there was an opportunity to continue to serve the community,” he said, describing the city as “well led” in the past. He noted that others see him as having a “balanced view” on how the city will address growth. Blydenburgh is board member and past chair of Mead Botanical Garden Inc., a volunteer group that operates the city-owned park. He previously served on the city’s Historic Preservation Board, as vice-chair of the city visioning process in 2016 and past president of Winter Park Rotary.

SEAT 2

Creasman, 55, a history professor at Valencia College, is youth pastor at First Baptist Church in Winter Park. He has lived in the city 26 years. He served five years on the city’s Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, the last four as chair. He could not be reached for comment, but, according to his web site, his vision includes “defending the future charm and wonder of Winter Park.” His focus, the site says, will be to continue to invest in and expand parks; strengthen city partnerships with Rollins College and Valencia; have “courageous conversations” about transportation, traffic, biking and accessibility, and encourage “healthy business and entrepreneurship.”

 DeCiccio, 63, a lawyer, has lived in the city 37 years. She was inspired to run while serving on the planning and zoning board, she said. “The issue of the library came up, and there were so many unanswered questions” related to such issues as parking, drainage and size. She became worried about all the development happening in the city, she said, and realized, “we’re either going to look like the great wall of Maitland or we’re going to preserve our charm.” Besides the planning and zoning board, DeCiccio has served on the city’s Economic Advisory Board, the Code Enforcement Board and the Orange Avenue advisory steering committee.

Waddell House Owners to Replace Porches

Waddell House Owners to Replace Porches

December 10, 2019 / by Geri Throne

Facing a daily city fine of $250, owners of Winter Park’s historic Waddell House told the city this week they plan to replace the rotted porches of the Victorian-styled structure.

“We want to work with the city not argue with the city,” David and Deborah Dunaway wrote in a letter dated December 9.

Last week, the city’s code compliance board ruled that the Dunaways violated the city’s historic preservation ordinance in July when they removed the home’s intricate two-story porch without a permit. It ordered the Dunaways to submit restoration plans in seven days or face a $250 fine for each day they remained in violation.

The letter included two sketches, one of the frontage of the house and the other of porch detail. “This is the first rendering of our plans to replace the rotted porches on our house at 1331 Aloma Ave.,” the letter stated. The sketches were said to be based on the home’s original design, as found in historic photos in the city library, and did not include “the add on or additions.” Additional architectural drawing and another permit application were promised to be submitted by Wednesday or Thursday of this week.

The home is named after William Waddell, a city pioneer who first occupied it. In 2005, long-time owners of the home had it put on the Winter Park Register of Historic Places before selling it. At the time, dense foliage in front of the home kept it mostly screened from view on busy Aloma Avenue. The Dunaways bought it in February of this year for $480,000 without an inspection. After they had the porch removed in the summer, highly visible blue tarps put over the front came loose, followed by months of rainwater intrusion.

At the code enforcement hearing, the couple’s attorney, Kevin Donaghy, asserted the house was structurally unsound. The Dunaways have “reached an impasse where they cannot afford to repair the entire home.” The Dunaways letter did not address how those structural issues would be addressed. Donaghy could not be reached for comment.

At a city commission meeting Monday, City Commissioner Todd Weaver and Mayor Steve Leary both praised city staff and the city Historic Preservation Board for their efforts toward preserving the structure.

Orange Avenue on Track to Become Hot Spot

Orange Avenue on Track to Become Hot Spot

December 5, 2019 / by Geri Throne

A 40,000-square-foot lakefront home proposed for Palmer Avenue—the biggest home ever in the city—is garnering the most attention outside Winter Park. But residents who crowded a city planning and zoning board meeting Tuesday had an even bigger issue on their minds: a rezoning plan to convert North Orange Avenue into the city’s next intensely developed hot spot.

After a long line of residents spoke for and against the rezoning proposal, members of the advisory board all voiced their enthusiastic support. They agreed that benefits would outweigh any negatives and voted unanimously to recommend the proposal to the city commission.

City commissioners will consider the rezoning plan at its Jan. 13 meeting.

Planning jargon aside…

Despite use of planning jargon such as “overlay district” and “placemaking” at Tuesday’s hearing, the issues surrounding the proposed Orange Avenue district boil down to familiar zoning concerns: Is growth “inevitable” in Winter Park, and if it is, how much development should be packed into an area? How high should buildings be allowed? How much extra traffic should be created?  How well would new construction mesh with existing structures?

City Planning Director Bronce Stephenson said a flexible mixed-use overlay is the best way to deal with the avenue’s future growth. He defended the months-long process the city went through to arrive at the proposal, noting that residents were involved early on. An 11-member appointed steering committee, made up of people with broad ranges of opinion about development, participated in the recommendations.

“Despite what has been reported [in social media], the small-scale character of Orange Avenue has been promoted and protected throughout the process to the highest extent possible,” Stephenson said.

Residents concerned about the new zoning district, however, were not convinced. They asked the planning board for more time to digest the thick packet explaining the proposal. They noted the potential for congestion, more traffic and buildings as tall as five and seven stories within the district.

Although the number of residential units in the district would stay the same, total development in the proposed district would become more intense. Under current zoning, almost 1.9 million square feet of development is possible in the district. With the new district zoning, the total square footage possible would climb to more than 2.6 million.

The debate…

The benefit, Stephenson said, would be a mixed-use plan that would improve the area visually, attract more visitors, and cure what the city sees as “economic stagnation” on Orange Avenue from Fairbanks Avenue to US 17-92. Some other pluses he cited: wider, safer sidewalks; more open space; connection with nearby Mead Botanical Gardens, and parking garages set back behind buildings. Design standards would ensure that new structures would be attractive and compatible with neighboring buildings.

Existing zoning also would allow more development, he said, and perhaps not what residents might desire. Without new and creative zoning, he warned, a Wal-Mart-sized structure could be built with a huge paved parking lot.

Some residents, however, worried that the plan didn’t do enough to honor the city’s stated commitment to cherish “its traditional scale and charm.” Resident Bart Johnson said that exceptions to that goal in most of the proposed district were big enough for a developer to “drive a truck through.”

“Citizens need more time to fully understand the implications” of the lengthy new ordinance, pleaded resident Pat McDonald, a concern echoed by other residents.

Frank Hamner, an attorney representing the Holler family, a major property owner in the area, criticized calls for further delay as having “a different purpose” than stated. Residents had ample time to attend the numerous public meetings about the proposal, he said. Their calls for more time were “a distraction” to “delay for delay’s purposes.” Hamner also accused unidentified people of posting online anonymously and knocking on doors “spreading lies” about the plan.  Those people should “come up out of the sewer,” and make their case face to face, he said.

Traffic worries

Stephenson downplayed traffic worries. The planning director stressed that the overlay is a “framework” or starting point, which must be approved before a traffic study can be done. He also cited a state study that found few drivers stopped on Orange Avenue as a destination. He described it as a “cut through” road.

That four-lane stretch of North Orange Avenue is no shortcut, however. It serves as an arterial road in Winter Park, connecting Winter Park commuters to State Road 527 and US 17-92 and helping them get from one side of the city to the other. Traffic accidents on that stretch are frequent, city statistics show. Until a traffic study is conducted, it remains unknown how traffic safety, street parking and traffic flow will be juggled under the proposed design.

Left unknown…

Undecided in the proposed ordinance is the fate of Progress Point, an odd-shaped, city-owned parcel at the intersections of Orange Avenue and Denning Drive. The steering committee could not agree how the lot should be used or whether the city should sell it. Sheila Deciccio, a member of that steering committee, urged that the city keep the land, which might help solve area stormwater and parking problems. The site is “one of the jewels we have left,” she said.

Also unknown, but probably not in doubt, is an unrelated agenda item—the fate of the massive 40,093-square-foot home that real-estate developer Marc Hagle wants to build on Lake Osceola. The planning and zoning board tabled its vote until next month after some board members and two neighbors raised questions about a proposed setback.

Charter, TDT Grant, City Manager Performance

Doesn’t Sound Lively – But It Was

Charter, TDT Grant, City Manager Performance

The November 25 Commission meeting managed to pack a few surprises into what initially appeared to be a light (if not boring) pre-holiday agenda.

Seidel Will Not Run in 2020

First, Commissioner Greg Seidel announced he will not seek re-election in 2020, citing work and family issues. That leaves Seats 1 and 2 up for grabs. Candidate qualifying begins December 3, 2019.

Commission Votes to Approve Contract for $6 Million TDT Grant

The motion to approve the contract for the Orange County Tourist Development Tax (TDT) grant was problematic in the absence of a Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) for the Canopy project, which will come to the Commission in January 2020.

Commissioner Carolyn Cooper voiced her concern that signing the contract before knowing the GMP would tie the City’s hands. According to City Attorney Kurt Ardaman, the grant application specifies the location of both the library and the events center and prevents the City from making “substantial changes,” even though such changes may be necessary to make the project affordable if the GMP comes in higher than expected.

Commissioner Todd Weaver moved to table the motion until after the Commission has discussed the GMP in January. Cooper seconded the motion, but the motion to table failed on a 3-2 vote. And even though there was no deadline requiring the contract be signed before the GMP comes in, the Commission voted 3-2 to approve the contract for the TDT grant, again with Weaver and Cooper dissenting.

City Manager Performance Review

The Commission then engaged in the annual ritual of City Manager Randy Knight’s performance review. The Commission voted 4-1 to award a 2 percent bonus in lieu of a salary increase. The dissenting vote was cast by Commissioner Cooper. She states her reasons in this video: click this link to view.

With regard to the mistaken information in the TDT grant application cited by Cooper, Communications Director Clarissa Howard stated that when the mistake on the application was discovered, the period for online submission of TDT/ARC grant applications had closed. “The only opportunity to correct the mistake was during the verbal presentation before the TDT/ARC Board,” said Howard, “and the Board cut Mayor Leary’s presentation short, so he had no opportunity to correct the mistake.”

Voters Will Decide Charter Amendments

The Commission then took up the matter of the Charter amendments that will be put to the voters on the March 17, 2020, ballot. On 3-2 votes, with Sprinkel and Leary dissenting, three of the more controversial issues will appear on the ballot for the voters to decide.

Annual Salaries for Mayor & Commissioners

Voters will have the opportunity to raise annual salaries for the first time in many years to $12,600 for Commissioners and $15,000 for the Mayor. The hope is that this will provide the opportunity for a more diverse pool of qualified candidates to run for elected office. 

Board Appointments Would No Longer Be Made Only by the Mayor

Appointments to City advisory boards and ad hoc committees will be distributed among the Mayor and Commissioners. The amendment states in part, “. . . each board and ad hoc committee shall have seven members . . . . Three of the seven members of the board or committee shall be appointed by the Mayor and such members shall serve at the Mayor’s pleasure. Each of the four City Commissioners shall appoint one of the seven members of the board or committee and such members shall serve at the pleasure of the City Commissioner holding the Commission seat that appointed the member.”

Video Conferencing Would Be Provided for Absent Commissioners to Vote

This amendment states in part, “Voting on ordinances and resolutions shall be by roll call vote of the Commissioners and the Mayor. . . . The affirmative vote of three members of the City Commission who are physically present at the meeting, either in person or through the use of video-conferencing, shall be necessary to adopt any ordinance or resolution. The use of video-conferencing by an individual member of the City Commission shall be limited to not more than three times per calendar year and shall be subject to approval pursuant to and governed by rules and procedures adopted by the City Commission.”

Commissioners have had difficulty teleconferencing in to meetings. Adoption of this amendment will require the City to acquire video conferencing equipment, which it does not currently have.

Stronger Language for Non-Partisan City Elections

The amendment states in part, “Upon qualifying for office through the election, a candidate for the office of city commissioner or mayor shall not: (1) Campaign and/or publicly represent or advertise herself or himself as a member of any political party; or (2) Accept campaign contributions from any political party.

(b) A candidate for commissioner or mayor who violates a provision of this section shall be liable for a civil fine of up to $1,000 per violation. The City Commission shall adopt an ordinance describing the procedure to determine violations, provide due process, and set fines.”

The issue of donations from partisan Political Action Committees (PACs) came up, but no prohibition could be included in the Charter because it would conflict with federal law.

The full text of these and other amendments can be found here: https://winterpark.novusagenda.com/agendapublic/CoverSheet.aspx?ItemID=1498&MeetingID=195

Scroll to the bottom of the Cover Sheet and click on the tiny blue line that says “Revised Ordinance.”

These and other amendments to the City Charter will appear on the ballot for voter decision in the March 17, 2020, election.

 

What's Wrong With the Orange Avenue Overlay As Written?

Editor's Note: Articles written by citizens reflect their own opinions and not the views of the Winter Park Voice.  

What’s Wrong With the Orange Avenue Overlay As Written?

 

by Beth Hall Guest Columnist

The list is long.

To begin with…the idea of the OAO did not originate with you or your neighbors. Not at all.
The Voice has one thing right. It is true that “mixed use” is already allowed all along the Orange corridor as well as throughout Winter Park. Has been for a long time.
Here’s what the Voice and the city staffers are not telling you. Only low intensity/ low density mixed use was allowed.
Here’s another thing they are not telling you:
High density residential apartments/condos (R-4) are BACK!!
Large scale multi-family residential buildings will again be permitted in Winter Park. Yes, that’s right. High density residential apartments (or condos) like the Paseo will now be allowed- again.
This means that when the city commission voted UNANIMOUSLY on April 24, 2017, to eliminate high density residential apartments from our futures (except where grandfathered), they apparently meant “only for a little while.” (The backlash from the Paseo was the driving force. No more Paseos we were told.)
Pete Weldon even RAN on it in the last commission race. “I removed R-4 (high density apartment zoning)”, he crowed! I preserved Winter Park’s residential character! Leary endorsed Weldon praising very specifically the move by Weldon to get rid of the bane of high density residential (R-4) from all of our lives. No more Paseo’s.
Did either Leary or Weldon mean it? We will soon find out.
And, did Seidel, Sprinkel and Cooper all mean it when they voted unanimously on 4-24-17 to eliminate developers’ future ability to seek high density (25 units per acre) residential housing under our comp plan and zoning codes? We will soon know.
Just how serious and how genuine were those votes? The “issues” on Orange were all well known at the time of the vote and well before the vote to remove R-4 on 4-17-17.
If they vote to adopt the overlay as written at the meeting on January 13, 2020, then Paseo-like high density residential will be back with a vengeance.
In fact, the buildings with all the units will be even bigger. This is because It won’t just be the apartments or condos, it will be the giant parking garages that go with them.
IF the overlay passes as it is, a new high-density complex of over 200 units can now be built by Holler on the vacant RV parcel at Denning and Fairbanks; and, Demetree will be entitled to build over 200 housing units on the site of the original Lombardi’s building.
These mega complexes will be allowed to reach 5 stories and 7 stories in height, respectively. And the big parking garages they need will be excluded from FAR calculations which previously acted to limit total massing. Poof! Not anymore.
Winter Park residents cherish the traditional scale and character of Winter Park. They value the low-density residential character of the city. They have said so over and over and over again.
The votes cast by commissioners on January 13, 2020, will tell us whether they intend to honor the commitment they made to us on April 24, 2017.
Mixed use zoning or an overlay does not HAVE to mean the return of high-density residential housing (R-4). But if THIS overlay is approved as written that is exactly what we will be getting. They’ll just call it something different.