Anne Mooney

Entries by Anne Mooney

Judge Denies Citizens’ PAC

Requests for Rehearing, Rewording Denied

Judge Denies Citizens’ PAC

city-libary-cogsAs 2017 gears up, the court continues to clear obstacles from the Winter Park Library’s path to Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) Park. Judge Margaret Schreiber has denied the Save Our Library WP PAC’s requests for a rehearing of the bond validation suit and the removal of language specifying the library location from her ruling.

Petition Question Still Unanswered

The only matter still pending is a request that the court quash the Certificate of Insufficiency issued by City Clerk Cindy Bonham. The City maintains the petition is a “reconsideration of a referendum,” which must be filed within 30 days of the election. The PAC says their petition, which was filed in August well after the election, was an initiative seeking to establish an ordinance to prevent a library from being built in MLK Park. A Citizens’ Initiative, provided for in the City Charter, has no time limit.

City Fees Top $200,000

According to City Manager Randy Knight, the City’s legal fees, to date, amount to $201,759. Fees in the bond validation suit are $168,881, and fees in the dispute over the petition total $32,878.

Bond Validation Protects City, Saves Money in the Long Run

The bond validation protects the City from future legal challenge regarding the bond issue, and it will save the City money by allowing the bonds to be sold at a more favorable rate. Any expenditures associated with the bond validation will be recovered over the life of the bonds and, according to an attorney knowledgeable about the situation but who asked not to be identified, represents a wise investment on the part of the City.

PAC: City Could Have Avoided Additional Fees

According to citizens associated with the Save Our Library WP PAC, the City would not have incurred the $32,878 in fees if they had acknowledged the citizens’ petition initiative. Michael Poole, president of the PAC, told the Voice, “This expenditure could have been avoided by allowing the voters a say in the location of the library – either by including location language in the March 15, 2016 ballot, or by accepting the citizens’ petition as an initiative and allowing the voters to express their preference that way. If the City had put the location to a vote, it would not have cost them anything.”

Save Our Library PAC Disputes Judge’s Ruling

Requests Rehearing to Present New Evidence

Save Our Library PAC Disputes Judge’s Ruling

city-libary-cogsThe Save Our Library WP PAC has filed two motions with Orange County Circuit Court requesting a rehearing of the library bond validation suit and asking Judge Margaret Schreiber to amend her Final Judgment, issued December 7, 2016.

PAC Wants to Present New Evidence

The request for rehearing is to present evidence, not presented at the hearing on October 20, 2016, that contradicts the City’s position that the new library-event center complex can only be built in Martin Luther King, Jr., (MLK) Park.

Memory Jog for City Manager

The evidence in question is video of City Manager Randy Knight speaking April 21, 2016 at a public meeting about the library. In the video, Knight states that the library could be built in a location other than MLK Park. At the October court hearing, Knight testified that he could not recall whether or not he had made that statement at the April meeting.

PAC Asks Judge to Strike 3 Paragraphs

The motion to amend the Final Judgment asks the Judge to eliminate paragraphs #26, #34 and #35 of the Final Judgement. Click Here to read Final Judgment.

Paragraph #26 refers to the PAC’s petition as a “reconsideration of the Bond Ordinance,” and states that the petition is now barred because it failed to meet a 30-day deadline for filing.

‘Reasonable Voter’ Paragraph Questioned

Paragraph #34 holds that a reasonable voter, upon reading the bond ordinance, would have understood that the new complex was to be built on the site of the existing Civic Center, and Paragraph #35 states that the MLK site was a matter of public record because of the motion passed at the October 26, 2016 commission meeting.

No Decision Reached in Separate Case

The PAC’s requests are based on a separate action filed in the Ninth Circuit Appellate Division in which they claim their petition is a Citizens’ Initiative and does not seek reconsideration of the bond ordinance. They hold that, because the intended location of the new complex did not appear anywhere on the ballot, the voters did not knowingly vote to locate the complex in MLK Park. They voted only to approve the library bonds.

No One Contested the Bond Validation

“In the bond validation case,” said PAC President Michael Poole, “the judge was asked only to validate the bonds. No one contested that. I do not know how [Judge Schreiber] could also decide on the library location when the location language appeared nowhere on the March 15 ballot. And the decision as to whether our petition constituted a reconsideration of the bond ordinance or not has nothing to do with validating the bonds.”

PAC: Court Lacks Jurisdiction

The PAC’s Motion to Alter or Amend Final Judgment states that paragraphs #26, #34 and #35 refer to, “. . .a collateral issue to the bond validation proceedings and [we] respectfully believe the Court does not have jurisdiction over this issue. The Court is aware that a Writ of Certiorari has been filed with the Ninth Judicial Circuit . . . . This case is pending and specifically addresses [these issues].”

The pending case is before a three-judge panel in the Ninth Circuit Appellate Division. Poole says they do not know when the panel will issue their ruling.

2016 Finale - Commission Approves Comp Plan

Nixes High-Density Provisions

2016 Finale – Commission Approves Comp Plan

homepage-button-comp-planAfter a marathon meeting that lasted well into Monday night, the Commission voted to accept a revised Comprehensive Plan. They concluded their final meeting of 2016 by voting to send it to Tallahassee for review by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.

Commissioners Listened

The revised plan underwent further revision, much of it resulting from citizens’ expression of their opinions and wishes to the Commissioners. In the words of Mayor Steve Leary, “We listen. We may not agree, but we listen.” Clearly, they did.

‘Urban Scale’ Heights Reduced

Two major revisions agreed to by the commissioners were the removal of four-story building height on North Denning and eight-story “urban scale” buildings along Fairbanks west of I-4.

R-4 Zoning Removed

Commissioner Peter Weldon made a motion, which the Commission approved, to remove the high-density residential land use category that allows for an R-4 zoning district.

This concluded the first reading of the ordinance to adopt the new Comp Plan. The second and final reading is set for April 2017.

Judge Validates $30 Million Bond for Library in MLK Park

Other Litigation Still Pending

Judge Validates $30 Million Bond for Library in MLK Park

winterpark-library2On Wednesday, the City’s plan to build a new library, event center and associated parking structure moved one step closer to Martin Luther King, Jr., Park. Judge Margaret Schreiber’s ruling validating a $30 million bond issue included MLK Park as the new building’s location.

Path to the Park May Have Some Bumps

At least one obstacle remains in the path to the park, however. A related but separate legal action is still pending. The issue involves a petition that seeks to prevent a library from being built in MLK Park, signed by more than 2,000 residents. The Save Our Library WP PAC submitted the petition to the City in July 2016. The PAC contends the petition is a “citizens’ initiative” under Sec. 5.01 of the City Charter. A citizens’ initiative has no deadline. The City asserts the petition is a “referendum” under Sec. 5.02 of the City Charter, and is therefore legally insufficient because it missed the filing deadline for a referendum.

Referendum or Citizens’ Initiative?

The PAC has asked the court to decide the petition question. Their case is moving ahead in the Orange County Circuit Court. It has been assigned to a panel of three circuit court judges — Jennifer Harris, Thomas W. Turner and John Kest.

At this point, no one knows how or if the judges’ ruling in this case will affect the final chapter of the library story. The only certainty is that the case is now before the judges, and the judges will issue a ruling some time in late 2016 or early 2017.

“Quasi-Judicial Tyranny”

In its filing, the PAC rejected the city’s argument that the action requested in their petition would result in the repeal of the bond ordinance. That position, they said, “thwarts the citizens’ democratic ability to legislate by initiative . . . [The Commission’s] decision is a classic example of an act of quasi-judicial tyranny” and violates the citizens’ right to due process.

After-the-Fact Logrolling

The PAC also asserted the new library and the new location are two separate issues, since the site was not mentioned on the March 15 ballot, which passed by a narrow margin. The PAC cited the legal “single-purpose rule,” which states that any proposition going to voters must address a single purpose. “This rule guards against logrolling, a practice of rolling separate issues into a single proposition . . .to obtain approval of what might be a controversial or unpopular vote.”

Any Reasonable Voter

Judge Schreiber disagreed. “Given the overwhelming information about the location of the Project on the site of the existing civic center in MLK Park,” Schreiber states in her Final Judgment, “a reasonable voter in the City could only have understood the Bond Referendum to mean that the new library and events center and related facilities would be built on the site of the current civic center.”

PAC Awaits Decision on Petition

Michael Poole, president of the Save Our Library WP PAC, said of Judge Schreiber’s decision, “The judge’s ruling surprised us, but we are still focused on making sure the citizens have the ability to vote for the location. We are moving forward with our suit.”

No Scheduled Demo for Rachel Murrah Civic Center

Anticipating construction of the new facility, there had been talk at the Commission level of demolishing the existing Rachel Murrah Civic Center in January 2017. Winter Park Director of Communications Clarissa Howard said, however, that the City is in a wait-and-see posture. She confirmed that, at present, there is no schedule for the demolition of the Murrah Civic Center.

Roger Trindade Death Ruled Homicide

Three Juveniles Arrested

Roger Trindade Death Ruled Homicide

roberttrindadeWPPD announced tonight that the final cause of the death of Roger Trindade was “homicide as a result of blunt force trauma.” With this information, the police obtained arrest warrants for three juveniles, all of whom are now in police custody.

The three young men charged in Roger Trindade’s death are Jesse K. Sutherland, age 15; Simeon Hall, age 15; and Jagger Gouda, age 14. None of the three is currently enrolled at Winter Park High School. The arrest affidavits have been sealed by a judge and no further information has been released by the WPPD.

Simeon Hall and Jagger Gouda were arrested in Orange County, FL. Jesse Sutherland was arrested in Virginia. Sutherland and Hall are both charged with manslaughter. Jagger Gouda is charged with tampering with a witness.

According to the statement issued this evening, “The Winter Park Police Department and Joint Homicide Investigation Team are working closely with the State Attorney’s Office and the Medical Examiner’s office during this investigation.”

Comprehensive Plan Coffee Talk

Still Time for Your Two Cents

Comprehensive Plan Coffee Talk

2centsMonday, December 5, from 8 to 10 a.m., at the Winter Park Welcome Center, 151 W. Lyman Ave., city staff will host a Comprehensive Plan CoffeeTalk,

CoffeeTalks are informal meetings at which citizens can speak with city leaders in a casual setting. This CoffeeTalk will focus exclusively on questions related to the Comprehensive Plan. City staff will kick off the CoffeeTalk with a brief presentation, which will be followed by a Q-and-A session with the audience.

If you are someone who still has issues, questions, comments or strong feelings about the Comp Plan, this is an important meeting. You should attend if at all possible, as it will be the last of its kind regarding the Comp Plan. While discussion of the Comp Plan will not cease after Dec. 5, this meeting is being held for the express purpose of receiving citizen input. So, if you have input, this would be a good time to put it in.

Comp Plan Should Reach Tallahassee by Christmas

The City Commission is scheduled to hold the first reading of the proposed Comprehensive Plan at their only December meeting Monday, December 12. If the Commissioners approve it, the proposed Comp Plan amendments will go to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) for their review on Thursday, December 22. The City expects to receive the results of the DEO review by March 6, 2017.

Comp Plan Second Reading in April 2017

City staff has tentatively scheduled the second reading of the Comp Plan before the City Commission in April 2017. For more information regarding the proposed Comprehensive Plan elements, the adoption process timeline, drafts and revisions, visit cityofwinterpark.org/comp-plan.

Examples of Changes Still Up for Discussion

Among the proposed Comp Plan changes, the City is contemplating allowing four-story construction along the west side of Denning north from Fairbanks to the northern property line of the Orange County Public School land that includes the Votech site.

Mixed use development with an urban scale of up to eight stories in height is being considered on the south side of Fairbanks, west of Formosa along Kentucky, Oglesby and Crandon Avenues.

The City is also weighing the expansion of the Central Business District (CBD) to include Orange Avenue, bringing with it additional density along that corridor.

This is about your city — how it will look – what it will be like to live here. Your opinion matters – city officials are asking you for it. Attend this forum to express it.

There’s Still Time for Comp Plan Suggestions

Final Adoption Scheduled April 2017

There’s Still Time for Comp Plan Suggestions

compplanThe City is on a fast track with their Comprehensive Plan updates, but that does not mean it’s too late for citizen input and participation in the process.

Follow this link to the Comp Plan, where you can see how it is being edited and updated.

If you have questions, or if there is something you don’t understand, email your questions to mayorandcommissioners@cityofwinterpark.org.

Commissioners Welcome Your Input

Commissioner Greg Seidel told the Voice, “I am in the process of gathering citizens’ questions and suggestions to bring forward at the December 12 Commission meeting. I hope everyone will feel free to contact us and to participate in this process.”

Comp Plan Meeting Dec. 5

Plan to attend the Comprehensive Plan Coffee Talk December 5, from 8:00 – 10:00 a.m. at the Welcome Center, 151 W. Lyman Avenue. City Planning Staff will be there to explain the process and answer your questions.

The Comp Plan is vitally important to all of us who care about our city. It is the over-arching document that lays out the concepts and policies governing how Winter Park will look – now and in the future. Together, the Comp Plan, the Zoning Codes and the Building Codes form a sort of three-legged stool. The Comp Plan lays out the broad policies, while the Zoning Codes specify what type of structure can be built where, and the Building Codes say how the structure must be built.

Changes Possible Until Final Adoption

Even if you are unable to attend the Comp Plan Coffee Talk December 5, your input will still be welcomed by staff and elected officials. City Communications Director Clarissa Howard assured us that citizens can submit their input and that Comp Plan changes can be made until the final adoption by the City Commission, which is scheduled in April 2017.

Comp Plan on the Rocket Docket

Some Say It’s Moving Too Fast

Comp Plan on the Rocket Docket

On schedule to meet a February 1, 2017, deadline, the final four elements of the Comprehensive Plan update arrived at Planning & Zoning on the evening of Tuesday, November 8. The meeting was, relatively speaking, lightly attended, but a few concerned citizens tore themselves away from the unfolding drama of the national election to plead special cases.

The four Comp Plan elements P&Z approved to be sent to the City Commission were Capital Improvement, Housing, Transportation and Future Land Use. Predictably, the Future Land Use element drew the most attention.

Can Anyone Keep Up?

There has been considerable commentary about the speed with which the Comp Plan revision process is taking place, especially as regards the Land Use element. Pat MacDonald pointed out that there have been 22 meetings between July and October, with nearly half the meetings taking place in October. The all-important Land Use element of the Comp Plan has been whittled from 85 pages down to 31 pages. Few are able to comprehend what, if anything, was lost in those 54 pages. And very few are able to understand or keep track of all the changes to the document as a whole.

“Ambitious, Artificial Deadline”

Private citizens are not the only ones objecting to the pace at which the Comp Plan revision has been conducted. Referring to the work session Pat MacDonald mentioned in the video above, P&Z board member Peter Gottfried wrote October 18 to the mayor and commissioners, “We were just sent the latest proposed changes to the Future Land Use Element to the Comprehensive Plan. This is a major piece of legislation that needs to be thoroughly reviewed by members of the Planning and Zoning Board as well as the citizens of Winter Park prior to our workshop this afternoon. Unfortunately, time does not allow for a review that I think is crucial.”

Transportation Element Rolls in Minutes Before Meeting

“I had the same issue with our review of the Transportation element at a workshop a few weeks ago where we were given the proposed change matrix minutes before our meeting. This, my colleagues, is no way to run a railroad or a City. There is absolutely no way I, as your representative on the Planning and Zoning Board, can provide proper review and insight to this document with this ambitious, artificial, deadline.

Is Breakneck Speed Politically Motivated?

“Please put aside opinions that we need to rush this in order to avoid political implications in the upcoming city election,” continued Gottfried. “The better way to approach this is to slow down in order to give thoughtful and careful evaluation of a document that will set the tone for the development of Winter Park for years to come.”

“Can I have your support to consider changing the implementation schedule so that we have the appropriate amount of time to consider more thoughtfully this comprehensive document.”

Last-Minute Changes Requested

Toward the end of the meeting, attorney Becky Wilson requested changes to the land use map that would benefit one of her clients, and developer Dan Bellows requested changes that would benefit him. Both were requesting expanding the Central Business District (CBD), which would have the effect of increasing density but preserving the pedestrian orientation of development in the Hannibal Square district. And, once again, the issue of haste reared its head.

Why Wait Until the Last Minute?

Why, questioned Peter Gottfried, did Wilson and Bellows wait until these elements were scheduled for adoption to bring their requests for changes? Wilson’s response, that she believed this was the meeting where her requests were meant to be heard, indicates that even an attorney as familiar with the inner workings of City Hall as Wilson is did not fully understand how fast a track this train is on.

P&Z members postponed their decision for six months to provide opportunity to study the effects of the proposed changes.

Young Composers Challenge Comes to DPAC

You Should, Too

Young Composers Challenge Comes to DPAC



Music Lovers, mark your calendars. On Sunday, November 13. Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center will host the National Young Composers Challenge (YCC) from 12:30 to 5:00 pm, with a reception to follow.

Admission to the Composium is Free

Doors will be kept open during the event so that you can come to be inspired by your favorite young composer or stay for the entire event. After the performance, everyone is invited to share refreshments and mingle with musicians, judges, the composers and their families.

Most Prestigious U.S. Competition

The brainchild of Winter Park philanthropist Steve Goldman, YCC has been around since 2003. Limited at first to submissions from young Central Florida composers, aged 13 to 18, YCC has grown into the most prestigious competition in the country for young composers of orchestral music. YCC now receives thousands of submissions from around the country from youngsters aged 13 to 18. The 13-year-olds will amaze you. By the time they’re 18, they’re old hands.

What’s a Composium?

The performance you will see on November 13 is like a concert, plus a master class, plus a competition. It’s informative, dramatic, and entirely entertaining. Hear the winning compositions by America’s top young composers discussed, rehearsed, and conducted by Maestro Christopher Wilkins and performed by the symphony orchestra in the Disney Theater at the Dr. Phillips Performing Arts Center.

The performance of each composition begins with an audio excerpt from the young composer’s computer-generated score. Next, the composition is rehearsed by the orchestra, giving the composer an opportunity to interact with the conductor, the orchestra musicians, and the judges. Each session ends with the final performance of the composition.

Come As You Are and Bring the Kids

Dress casually, bring the kids, and prepare to have your mind expanded. You are unlikely ever to listen to an orchestra performance in quite the same way again.

Location

Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts
Walt Disney Theater
445 S. Magnolia Avenue
Orlando, FL 32801

Get driving directions here or contact the Dr. Phillips Center offices at (407) 839-0119

Wheels of Justice

Grind Slowly, but Exceedingly Fine

Wheels of Justice

city-libary-cogs

The Library/Event Center/Parking Structure issue is still making its way through the tangled maze of the Florida judicial system. On October 20, the hearing regarding validation of up to $30 million in general obligation bonds for the purpose of building the library-event center came before Judge Margaret Schreiber of the Ninth Judicial Circuit.

Despite the array of arguments and the number of lawyers present to make them, at the end of the day, it comes down to one question. What language will the Judge put in her final order?

Bonds Will Be Validated

Since no one opposed validating the bonds, the Judge asked the city’s bond attorney, whose area of expertise this is, to come back to her by November 15 with drafts of two final orders for her signature. Both orders will validate the bonds.

Validation Order May? Or May Not? Include Location

One order will include the language of the location in Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) Park. The other will validate the bonds, but will include no language about the location. After she receives the two draft orders November 15, the Judge will decide which order to sign. Either way, the bonds will be validated.

Separate Suit on Petitions Also Pending

Meanwhile, a separate suit, this one filed in the Appellate Division of the Ninth Circuit, seeks to determine whether the petitions submitted to the City by the Save Our Library WP PAC constitute a Referendum or a Citizens’ Initiative.

Are the Petitions a Referendum?

If the appellate judge finds that the petitions are a Referendum, under Sec. 5.02 of the City Charter, then the petitions are not valid and the effort to block the location of the library in MLK Park fails.

Or a Citzens Initiative?

If the judge finds the petitions are a Citizens’ Initiative, under Sec. 5.01 of the City Charter, the petitioners will bring before the Commission an ordinance stating that no library may be built in MLK Park. The Commission must vote on that ordinance. If they pass it, it becomes law that no library may be built in MLK Park.

Final Decision May Be Up to the Voters

If the Commission does not pass the ordinance, then the ordinance will go on a ballot and it will be up to the registered voters in Winter Park to decide whether the ordinance passes or fails. In both cases, only a simple majority is required.

At this point, it is unclear how the outcome of one lawsuit will affect the outcome of the other.