Anne Mooney

Entries by Anne Mooney

Individual Property Rights vs. the Common Good

Are They Mutually Exclusive?

Individual Property Rights vs. the Common Good

The proponents of property rights went toe-to-toe with the advocates of neighborhood compatibility in a Planning & Zoning (P&Z) Board meeting Tuesday, March 7, which lasted well into the night. An overflow audience packed the Commission Chamber and spilled out into the elevator foyer. Tempers flared and rhetoric grew heated as citizens, applicants and P&Z Board members aired conflicting views.

At the end of the day, P&Z sent forward for Commission approval a total of 133,830 square feet of commercial development, with requests for variances for around 300 parking spaces.

Three Controversial Projects

At issue were three large commercial developments, two of which had been to P&Z before.

1. Villa Tuscany Memory Care Center, 1298 Howell Branch Road — 41,352 square feet, requesting a variance for 4 parking spaces.
2. Orchard Supply Hardware Store, 2540 Aloma Avenue (on the site of Aloma Bowl) — 39,877 square feet, requesting a variance for 45 parking spaces.
3. A Three-Story, mixed use building at 158 E. New England Avenue — 52,601 square feet, needing a parking variance of 200 spaces, more or less. The issue of how many parking spaces is hotly disputed, but everyone, even the applicant, agrees they need more.

Villa Tuscany Memory Care

Winter Park Elderly Services, LLC, first brought this project before P&Z in October 2016. The proposal was for a 50-bed, 34,986-square-foot memory care and assisted living facility at the intersection of Temple Trail and Howell Branch Road. The building site fronts Lake Temple and there is also a sinkhole on the property. The proposed height of the original building was more than 35 feet, requiring an 85-foot setback from Lake Temple. Staff recommended denial.

At the October meeting, P&Z voted to approve the use for a memory care facility, but tabled the request for building variances. They asked the applicant to return with a plan for a smaller facility. Instead, the applicant returned with a request for a larger facility — 6,366 square feet larger, with 51 beds — but it is only 35 feet high.

It’s Still Too Big

The neighbors weren’t buying it. “It is still too big,” they said. “It’s not compatible with the neighborhood.” Residents Barry Render and Nancy Freeman, representing 13 area HOAs, offered petitions with more than 200 signatures of people opposing the project and a Powerpoint presenting 10 reasons why P&Z should vote to deny.

But Not As Big As It Could Be

The incompatibility argument having been heard, attorney Becky Wilson, representing the applicant, returned to the podium with the property rights argument. The applicant was requesting a building about half the size he was actually entitled to under City code, warned Wilson.

P&Z Sides with Developer

Bob Hahn began the board’s discussion of the project by objecting to “accusations of profiteering.”

After a short discussion, the P&Z Board voted unanimously to approve the application and send it forward to the Commission.

Orchard Supply Hardware

Lowe’s subsidiary Orchard Supply Hardware seeks to build a second store within Winter Park City limits. The first slightly smaller store (32,355 square feet) is going up on 17-92. This project will sit on the present site of the Aloma Bowl, which has been sold to developers.

Real Estate Bubble?

Steve Miller of Miller’s Hardware spoke about the impact of commercial development on traffic and the general quality of life in Winter Park. “We may have a real estate bubble going,” he cautioned.

Lamenting the Loss of Aloma Bowl

A large group of citizens dressed in blue “Save Aloma Bowl” t-shirts protested the loss of the bowling alley, which has provided a family-friendly athletic and social outlet for generations of Winter Parkers of all ages. The Winter Park High School Bowling Team Co-captain described its importance in her life.

Once again, individual property rights collided with the interests of the common good. Becky Wilson, attorney for the applicant, explained it this way.

P&Z members sympathized with the residents, but explained that it was not within their purview to save the bowling alley. Shelia De Ciccio asked for understanding from residents in the audience.

After a discussion about signage and parking, the P&Z Board voted unanimously to approve the application and send it forward to the Commission.

158 East New England Avenue

BFC New England LLC first appeared before P&Z in November 2016 requesting approval for a three-story mixed-use development in the downtown core of Winter Park. The second and third floors would be occupied by Class A office space, while plans for the ground floor included retail space and two restaurants.

The Problem?

In a word . . . parking. Especially daytime parking.

The November staff report cites City parking code at 4 parking spaces per 1,000 feet for office and retail, and 1 space for every 4 seats in a restaurant. At the November hearing, BFC Holdings proposed 40,000 square feet of office and retail, requiring 162 spaces. They agreed to a total of 380 restaurant seats — an additional 95 spaces, for a total requirement of 257 spaces. BFC plans to put 57 spaces in the new building and to use another 90 spaces in the Bank of America garage across the street, which they own. Using these rules, they are short 110 parking spaces.

Now, City staff proposes to reduce the parking requirement to 3 spaces per 1,000 feet of retail/office. By those rules, BFC would need 133 spaces for office/retail, plus 95 for restaurant, totaling 228 spaces, leaving them only 81 spaces short. Bear in mind, this building will go up on a parking lot that currently holds 60 to 80 cars. The loss of those spaces will put further pressure on an existing parking deficit.

For daytime office and retail use, the 147 available spaces might be okay, especially since the two restaurants in the Bank of America building, Luma and the Wine Room, are currently open only in the evening – but nothing prevents them from opening for lunch.

Valet Parking in the Loading Zone

What if the two restaurants planned for the new building open for lunch – even with limited seating? Since parking for those restaurants would be in the Bank of America garage, which is closed to the public during the day, how would cars get in? Well, valet parking could get them in, but where on New England Avenue does one put the valet? Daniel Butts, speaking for BFC New England, proposes to put them in the loading zone.

P&Z Kicks the Can Down the Road

Following lengthy discourse on the relative merits of various parking scenarios, presiding P&Z chair Ross Johnston called for a vote. The vote ended up in a 3 – 3 tie, James Johnston having recused himself. As P&Z was unable to reach a decision, City staff will now take the proposal before the Commission, explain the rationale behind the opposing votes, and the decision will be up to the Commissioners.

Now What?

Those present at the meeting left with a number of unanswered questions. Though they are not questions that can or should be answered by P&Z, they are still left hanging.

Where Will the Green Space Go?

With a robust economy, commercial development is surging to satisfy pent up demand. As the favorable economic climate nurtures larger projects, infill developments test their boundaries. Traffic approaches gridlock — and parking? Forget it. Sidewalks, bike paths and especially, green space risk becoming a distant memory.

Is Everyone Playing by the Same Rules?

Conflicts occur at boundaries. In the interests of perpetuating the human race, our forebears found it advantageous to create a set of rules that allow Party A and Party B to preserve the integrity of their territory and still live peacefully side by side. But how well do the rules work if they are not always the same for everyone?

For instance, with Park Avenue merchants already losing business because of a downtown parking deficit, is it wise to create a special set of rules for large commercial projects?

Should We Hit the Pause Button?

Just this past January, Maitland Mayor Dale McDonald hit the Pause Button on high-density residential development in order to take a more global look at where his city is headed and what will be left of it when it gets there.

Might it be time for Winter Park to take a page from that book and pause to examine where we are headed with all this commercial development? After all, no developer comes to the City saying, “I want to build a bad development.” But how many big box stores does it take to make this too much of a good thing?

Are Individual Property Rights & the Common Good Mutually Exclusive?

City Fathers Chase and Chapman had it right when they drew up their plans for Winter Park in the 1880s. We still prosper from their vision. They began with a good plan, they codified it and they wrote it down for everyone to see and to follow. To this day, our Charter and our Comprehensive Plan provide a context within which neighbors can settle boundary disputes.

These documents also give us a way to achieve a balance between individual property rights and the common good.

It’s All Over but the Shouting

Library Hosts Final Candidate Faceoff

It’s All Over but the Shouting

Even though the election is only four days off, and most of those who vote by mail have already done so, every seat was filled at today’s Winter Park Library candidate debate. Former Channel 6 anchor Lauren Rowe moderated the sparring match between Commissioner Greg Seidel and Wes Naylor, Seidel’s opponent for Commission Seat #1.

The questions were substantive and the candidates’ answers were frequently quite direct. If you could not get to the Library today, click the link below to see the entire debate.

 

 

Memory Care Center Returns to P&Z

Villa Tuscany Holdings Seeks Approval of Revised Plan

Memory Care Center Returns to P&Z

map-asstd-living

 

On Tuesday, March 7, Villa Tuscany Holdings LLC will return to the Planning & Zoning Board (P&Z) to seek approval for a 41,000 square foot memory care facility at 1298 Howell Branch Road.

The facility is to be located on what is now a heavily wooded three-acre parcel of land, studded with specimen trees, that lies between Lake Temple and an unnamed sink hole. Of the three-plus acres, only 2.18 acres are above the Lake Temple ordinary high water level, making this a difficult building site.

P&Z Nixed October Application

At their October 4, 2016 meeting, P&Z tabled Villa Tuscany Holdings’ application with a request that the applicant revise the plans. Board members expressed no opposition to the proposed use of a memory care facility. Their concern was the size of the building. Stated in the minutes of that meeting: “Consensus of the Board was to direct the applicant to size down the project and bring those plans back to P&Z for consideration.”

The building proposed in October was three stories, 39 ½ feet at its tallest, with a gross floor area of 34,986 square feet, of which 31, 533 square feet were enclosed. The applicant explained that the 39+ foot height, which required a variance, was needed for a porte cochere at the entrance that would accommodate emergency vehicles. (Read the Voice coverage here.)

Developer Bought the Land

At the time of the October 4, 2016 hearing, Villa Tuscany Holdings LLC did not own the land. Since that time, the developer has purchased the land at 1298 Howell Branch Road.

Now Shorter, but Wider

The applicant is returning with revised plans for a building that is still three stories. It is 35 feet high, requiring no height variance. The gross floor area is 41,352 square feet, of which 34,112 square feet are enclosed. Like many of us, as this building gets shorter, it seems to grow wider. It has gained 2,579 square feet of enclosed space and 6,366 square feet of gross floor area.

Building is Still Non-Conforming

The developer must obtain two conditional use permits, one because the building is more than 10,000 square feet, and the other because it will be a memory care facility. By reducing the building height to 35 feet, however, the builder needs only a 75-foot setback from Lake Temple. Setting the building far enough from the lake means it will encroach on the required 25-foot setback from Howell Branch Road, and the developer is requesting a variance for this, as well.

Staff Recommends Approval

For a facility of this type, P&Z is only the first of many hurdles. For now, City staff has recommended that P&Z approve the application. P&Z will decide at their 6:00 pm meeting on Tuesday, March 7 — Does size really matter?

Editor’s Note: The name of the lake, Lake Temple, has been corrected.

Sip, Shop, Straw Poll

Mark the Date – Thursday, March 2 – 5:00 to 8:00 pm.

Sip, Shop, Straw Poll

CaptureJoin the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce and the Park Avenue Merchants Association for an early evening stroll down Park Avenue. Tickets are $25 and they’re going fast.

Stroll, Sip, Shop & Snack

Twenty-five dollars entitles you to a wine glass, which you can refill as many times as you like at your favorite restaurants, cafes and shops. Be sure to stop by Park Avenue’s stylish eateries to sample their menu items while you shop and enjoy your wine. Note: You must be at least 21 years of age to attend.

Vote Early! Vote Often!

Wait! That’s not all! When you pick up your wine glass at the Winter Park Welcome Center on Lyman Avenue, you can also cast a straw ballot for your favorite candidate for Winter Park city commission. Will you vote for crime-fighting Navy vet Wes Naylor? Or side with Local Nerd Greg Seidel?

Do you have to live in Winter Park to vote? No. Do you have to be a registered voter — anywhere? No. Can you vote more than once? Yes. How many times can you vote? How many $25 checks do you have?

Does the Chamber of Commerce or the Winter Park Merchants Association have a favorite candidate? They’re not saying. Speaking for the Chamber, Vice President Erika Spence stated emphatically, “The Chamber does not endorse political candidates.”

Straw Votes Tallied at 7:00 pm

Folks from the Orange County Supervisor of Elections office will join the fun and tally the straw votes. The Straw Poll ends at 7:00, and the results will be announced by 8:00 pm. The cost of County participation will be covered by proceeds from the event. For once, this is not your tax dollars at work.

You won’t want to miss this event, which is sponsored by Allegro Senior Living.
For more information, click here.

Candidates Face Off at Rollins

Two Down, One to Go

Candidates Face Off at Rollins

header-with-headshots-seat-1

At Rollins College Bush Auditorium, Commissioner Greg Seidel once again faced his opponent for Commission Seat #1, Wes Naylor. This second of three debates was hosted by the Rollins College Democracy Project and was moderated by the Democracy Project Student Coordinator Destiny Reyes.

Candidates addressed questions about fostering economic development in the city, improving infrastructure, the role of education in the city, specifically as it relates to Rollins, and the importance of community involvement in local government.

An unabridged video of the debate is included here for those who were unable to attend.

The next debate will be held at the Winter Park Library March 10 at Noon.

Man Struck by Amtrak Train

Near 17-92 Overpass

Man Struck by Amtrak Train

train crossingPolice reported that a man walking on the train tracks just south of the 17-92 overpass was struck by an Amtrak train last night about 8:00 pm. Lieutenant Pam Marcum of the Winter Park Police Department said that an Amtrak employee called an ambulance, which transported the man to the hospital, where he later died.

Marcum described the man as an Hispanic male. His age and identity are being withheld pending further investigation and notification of next of kin. Marcum was unable to say at this time whether the death was accidental or the victim intentionally put himself in the path of the oncoming train.

Amtrak did not respond to requests for comment.

Candidates Face Off at Chamber Debate

City Has Money – How Should We Spend It?

Candidates Face Off at Chamber Debate

header-with-headshots-seat-1

Before a packed audience at the Chamber of Commerce early this morning, Commissioner Greg Seidel faced off against Wes Naylor, his challenger for Commission Seat #1.

A good part of the discussion centered on the swelling City coffers that have resulted from rising property values and redevelopment within the CRA district. The City experienced an 8 percent increase in revenue last year. The candidates discussed at length the opportunities for capital improvement and additions to City infrastructure.

Talk About Traffic, Taxes, Public Safety

Candidates took up the topics of roads, traffic, parking, the installation of a fiber optic “spine” through the City, and coordination of traffic planning with neighboring communities such as Orlando and Maitland.

Taxes and crime also got some attention. The recent rash of property crimes, coupled with the tragic death of young Roger Trindade, raised questions about the safety of Park Avenue and the need for increased police presence there.

Thanks to Both Candidates

The tenor of the debate was cordial and lively. Both candidates seemed well-informed and thoroughly engaged in the community. Campaigning for office, and the devotion of time required to serve in office, represent a significant level of commitment. Both of these gentlemen deserve our appreciation for their willingness to serve this community.

The Choice Is Yours

This morning’s debate was the first of three. The Winter Park Library will hold a debate March 10 at Noon, and Rollins College will hold an evening debate at Bush Auditorium on a date to be announced.

The Winter Park Voice will post video of all three debates. Even those who cannot attend one of the debates can view the video to see which one of these candidates you would choose to represent you in Commission Seat #1.

 

Vote March 14.

Every Day Is Training Day

At Winter Park Fire-Rescue

Every Day Is Training Day

WPFD-logoOutside, the morning is cool and sunny but inside, the old building at Progress Point is eerily dark, quiet. Suddenly, four fire fighters, each wearing 50 to 60 pounds of gear and carrying another 25 pounds of tools, burst into the room like figures in an action movie. They wear hoods and cannot see. They make plenty of noise. They conduct a quick “right hand search,” with two men proceeding into the room keeping their right hands on the wall. A third officer carries a Thermal Imaging Camera that is sensitive enough to detect the warmth from a fire fighter’s hand print on the wall. This is how they see.thermal handprint

Tangle Tunnel

The officer with the camera directs the men as they crawl under and over furniture, searching for fire and for victims. One of the obstacles they encounter is a “tangle tunnel.” A long plywood tunnel crisscrossed with wires and cords, the tangle tunnel replicates what a fire fighter would have to deal with if a ceiling has burned, leaving wires and fixtures dangling. The fully loaded fire fighter must crawl, blindfolded, through the 10-foot long space with his body at an angle to ensure the air bottle he carries on his back does not get hung up in the wires.

“We are frequently called at night,” explains Jimm Walsh, Division Chief of the Winter Park Fire-Rescue Department, “and if there is smoke — even in daylight — we can see nothing. So this is how we conduct our drills.”

Progress Point Being Put to Good Use . . .

Winter Park Fire – Rescue has set up their training facility in the old call center building at Progress Point on Orange Avenue. It is used not just by Winter Park, but also by other area fire companies, including Orlando.

. . .As Is Some Previously Used Furniture

Using furniture and fixtures gleaned from defunct businesses and a few alleys, Fire Rescue training folks have created a mockup daycare center, a living room, an office, a child’s bedroom with bunk bed, and a playroom with toys. The tangle tunnels are placed at random. Amongst the jumble of furniture are mannequins – sand-filled “victims,” some child-size and some weighing as much as 220 pounds – dead weight that must be dragged to safety amidst chaos.

Firefighters at the Ready 24/7

Winter Park has 69 active firefighters (not including administrative personnel) — three women and 66 men. Of the 69, 57 are trained paramedics. Walsh estimates that 70 percent of their calls are medical emergencies. The remaining 30 percent he describes as “other” – fires, automobile accidents, hazmat and other types of emergencies. The department works a three-shift system, with firefighters on duty for 24 hours and off 48 hours. Each shift is covered by 23 firefighters.

Sole Provider of Emergency Medical Service

Winter Park Fire Rescue is the sole provider of emergency medical services within the city limits. Units respond from three fire stations, strategically located to cover the nine-square-mile area of Winter Park. The main station is on Canton Avenue, and the other two are located on Lakemont Avenue and Howell Branch Road. The department has two fully equipped ambulances, and while fire trucks cannot transport a patient to the hospital, each is equipped to provide advanced life support until an ambulance arrives.

Hours of Practice Build ‘Muscle Memory’

Each firefighter must complete a minimum of 20 hours of training a month. Most complete more than that. The array of knowledge required of a firefighter is, dare we say, awe-inspiring. In addition to knowing how to operate their equipment, drive the vehicles, practice the latest firefighting techniques and the latest medical emergency procedures, there is an ever-changing list of new information and equipment with which they must familiarize themselves.

“We are trying to build muscle memory,” said Jimm Walsh, “so that in an emergency situation, these people don’t have to think. They just act. It saves seconds, and seconds can save lives.”

They Know WP Like the Backs of Their Hands

Every firefighter must know the location of every single street in Winter Park. Even though the units have Siri to tell them where to go, technology can fail, so the firefighters must be able to demonstrate their knowledge of the area without technical assistance.

Firefighters study detailed engineering drawings of every commercial and multi-residential building in the city – and there are thousands of them. They learn the interior layouts, how to disable the alarm systems, where to turn off the electricity, where to turn on the water and the location of all fire hydrants in the vicinity of each building.

WPFD Earned Top Rating

All this effort has paid off. In 2013, after an on-site examination from the Insurance Services Office (ISO), the WPFD received a Class 1 rating – the highest possible. Criteria for the rating are community water supply, emergency communications (911) and the fire department itself.

Within the Fire Department, the areas evaluated include daily staffing, fire apparatus, training, equipment and pre-fire planning. WPFD is one of only three departments in the U.S. to receive Class 1 accreditation from the ISO. The classification is used by insurers to rate the risk of loss, which affects premiums paid by property owners.

Winter Park is a wonderful place to live. Everyone says so. So much goes on behind the scenes to make it that way. Thanks to these folks for looking out for us – 24/7.

Greg Seidel, Wes Naylor Vie for Commission Seat #1

Traffic Congestion, Public Safety Top Priorities

Greg Seidel, Wes Naylor Vie for Commission Seat #1

Three Candidate Debates

Open to the public and free of charge.

Welcome Center

151 W. Lyman Ave.
Friday, Feb. 10 – 8:00 am
Sponsored by the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce

Winter Park Library

460 E. New England Ave.
Friday, March 10 – 12:00 Noon
Sponsored by the Winter Park Public Library

Rollins College

Bush Auditorium
Date to Be Determined
Sponsored by the Rollins College Democracy Project

Spring is right around the corner — which means yet another election cycle for the City of Winter Park. On March 14, there is one contest in Winter Park – Commission Seat #1.

Greg Seidel has held Commission Seat #1 since 2015, when Steve Leary resigned to run for mayor. As the three-year term for Seat #1 comes to a close, Seidel is looking for a second term, “to continue the work we’ve begun during my time on the Commission,” he says.

Seidel – Civil Engineer

Seidel owns the Winter Park-based engineering and economics firm Balmoral Group, and has a 26-year career as a civil engineer. He has lived in Winter Park off and on since he was eight, when his father came to work at the Naval base. Greg and his wife Val are rearing two daughters in Winter Park and are active in the First United Methodist Church. Seidel serves on the school advisory council at Glenridge Middle School. Before he took his Commission seat in 2015, he served on the Winter Park Utility Advisory Board, which he chaired from 2011 to 2014. Seidel was instrumental in the utility undergrounding currently underway in Winter Park.

Naylor – Navy Veteran

Seidel is challenged by Wes Naylor, president of the Orlando-based consulting firm Coe & Naylor Group LLC. Naylor completed a 28-year career as a Naval officer and aviator. He is former commanding officer of the Naval Air Warfare Center Training Systems Division. He is a member of the Winter Park Police Pensions Board, St. Margaret Mary School Board, the Orlando Science Center Board and the Central Florida Partnership Board. Wes and his wife Lori have a 10-year-old daughter.

Traffic & Public Safety – Key Issues

In separate interviews with the Voice, both candidates expressed their concern for the safety and well-being of Winter Park residents and the need to manage the growing traffic congestion that is one result of the economic prosperity Central Floridians are enjoying. Watch the videos above to hear how each candidate plans to approach the issues that face Winter Park.

But, before you do – and however you decide – Do Decide. Cast Your Vote on March 14.

Winter Park’s Most Influential

Randy Noles Honored at Mead Botanical Garden

Winter Park’s Most Influential

randy

Randy Noles

On January 24, dozens of Winter Park “influentials” gathered to celebrate the work of Randy Noles, long-time editor and publisher of Winter Park Magazine. The crowd assembled to honor Noles’s contributions as community builder and, in particular, his support of Mead Botanical Garden, Inc., which hosted the reception.

gazebros

The Gazebros provided the music. L to R: Jack Byrd, Trevor Hall, Craig Taylor, Sheila Verde and Chip Weston. The Gazebros play at the Gazebo in Albert Park in College Park, at 6:30 on Tuesday evenings, weather permitting.

geneanMcKinnon

Genean McKinnon

Katrina Jenkins

Katrina Jenkins

 

coopers

Ned Cooper & Commissioner Carolyn Cooper

 

philkean

Phil Kean

 

bahiaMaroon

Dr. Bahia Maroon

 

robertsons

Pat & Randy Robertson

 

janne-lane

Janne Lane

 

dr-lane

Dr. Jack Lane

goldman

Steve Goldman, Peter Gottfried and Commissioner Peter Weldon

left-to-right

L to R: Randy Noles, Steve Goldman, Randy Roberts, Thaddeus Seymour

 

mcmacken

Ann and Tom McMacken

 

hartnet forman

Bob Hartnett (left) and Steve Foreman (right)

 

Ann Murrah

Ann Murrah

erikaandDebra

Erika Spence and Debra Hendrickson

characture

Rafael Diez – Reprinted with permission — http://cartoonucaricatures.com

To mark the occasion, this character drawing by Rafael Diez was presented to Noles. Mead Botanical Garden Executive Director Cynthia Hasenau learned that Noles, himself, had an abbreviated career as a character artist. “That,” she said, “led me to commission this rendition of Randy enjoying a stroll in Mead Garden.”