Those Yellow Signs – They’re Back!

Neighbors Protest Aloma Townhome Development

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

Those Yellow Signs – They’re Back!

Guest Columnist Beth Hall

The city Commission is now all that stands between a group of Osceola/Lakeview Planning District residents and a development proposal which threatens to destroy the single family character of their neighborhood, as well as that of a block on the north side of Aloma between Phelps and Lakemont Avenues.

No Density Signs are Back

City Planning staff and the Planning and Zoning Board have given the high-density, 18 town home project a big thumbs up, despite the fact that it will strip four of the five lots of their single family R-1A status. Residents adjacent to and directly behind the project are up in arms.

Planning Staff Recommends PURD

City Planning staff has worked with the applicant, Ansaka LLC, on the project for close to 18 months and are now recommending approval. The project takes the maximum conceivable density under the Planned Unit Residential Development (PURD) and R-3 zoning classifications, then adds four additional housing units.

Comp Plan Provides for Preservation of Single Family Zoning

The Comprehensive Plan provides that single family homes in this district are to be “preserved.”  City planning staff maintains that this is true of 98 percent of the planning district, but not on this part of Aloma. The growing number of yellow “No Density” signs sprouting along Aloma suggests that prospective neighbors beg to differ.

Ironically, during the same 18-month period the Planning Staff was working with the applicant, the City’s Comprehensive Plan was undergoing its periodic revision process. Despite countless staff hours and numerous community meetings, including Commission meetings, the Comp Plan still calls for the single-family R-1A designation of these parcels west of the corner of Lakemont and Aloma to remain undisturbed.

P&Z Grants Approval December 2017

Planning and Zoning took up Ansaka’s application on December 5, 2017. They approved it over the objections of the residents who appeared and spoke in opposition.

P&Z recommended the applicant hold a community meeting to discuss an appropriate “buffer” between the project and the adjacent single family homes to the north and west of the micro-community before the project went to public hearing at the January 6, 2018, Commission meeting.

Ansaka Slows Down Application Process

Ansaka skipped the January 6 Commission meeting, and finally held a community meeting on March 1, 2018. It is unclear how attendees were notified of the meeting. The applicant chose to postpone the public hearing until March 26, 2018.

City Staff Hits Speed Bump

Then, a glitch in the City’s public notification process necessitated a delay for two more weeks, until Monday, April 9, because of the City’s inability to verify that it had provided adequate public notice in all its required forms, including publication.

Speed Bump Slows Ansaka

The Applicant made clear his intention to proceed on March 26, but was unsuccessful. The project was pulled from the March 26 agenda and rescheduled to April 9. The intervening two weeks have seen a surge in awareness of the project throughout the neighborhood and throughout the City.

Neighbors Ask Commission to Step into the Breach

At this moment, residents of the neighborhood near the project are holding out hope that the city Commission will give their already established property rights priority over those of a developer who bought land speculating that he could rezone it, change the future land use map, and amend our Comprehensive Plan.

Who will prevail?

  • author's avatar

    By: Anne Mooney

    Anne Mooney has assumed the editorship of the Winter Park Voice from founding editor Tom Childers.

    Mooney got her start in New York as a freelance line editor for book publishers, among them Simon & Schuster and the Clarkson Potter division of Crown Books. From New York, she and her husband and their year-old toddler moved to Washington, D.C., where the two ran a newswire service for Harper’s magazine. “We called it Network News,” said Mooney, “because it was a network of the Harper’s writers, whose work we edited into newspaper style and format and sold to papers in the top U.S. and Canadian markets. We were sort of like a tiny UPI.”

    The newswire ceased operation with the death of Mooney’s first husband, but Mooney continued to write and edit, doing freelance work for Williams Sonoma cookbooks and for local publications in D.C.

    In 2005, Mooney moved to Winter Park, where she worked as a personal chef and wrote a regular food column for a south Florida magazine. She took an active interest in Winter Park politics and was there when the Winter Park Voice was founded. She wrote occasional pieces for the Voice, including the Childers bio that this piece replaces.

    The Winter Park Voice is one of a large number of “hyper-local” publications that have sprung up across the U.S. in response to the decline of the major daily newspapers and the resulting deficit of local news coverage. The Voice’sbeat is Winter Park City Hall, and its purpose is to help the residents of our city better understand the political forces that shape our daily lives.

  • author's avatar

20 replies
  1. Why? Just why? says:

    Let’s face it, there is no street parking on Aloma or Lakemont so if anyone in this proposed project has even a small family gathering parking will be an issue.

    Maybe as a condition for allowing this conglomeration of lots the city can demand adequate PLUS additional parking be provided.

    Also IF approved, requiring an extra 15ft green border surrounding the property would be nice….. to replace all the trees coming down….but even more so because the owners behind and next to this potential project believed they were buying in a single family residential zone when they made THEIR investments.

    Reply
  2. Anonymous says:

    Is this project going to be walled in and gated? Are there any other examples of that existing in the area?

    Reply
  3. Brick Aloma says:

    The solution is to brick Aloma Avenue with the same kind of bricks Pennsylvania Avenue is bricked south of Minnesota.

    That would cut down on the through traffic.

    You are probably saying that would cost a lot of money. And it would.

    As an interim solution the City could bring in a few semis loaded with bricks and dump them on Aloma Avenue, until funds could be allocated to complete the project.

    Reply
  4. Anonymous says:

    I think it is important that a trip count/traffic study for the project be available. Perhaps this has been done already so my apologies. The project seems incompatible with the surrounding adjacent land use and high traffic issues already present. The safety and security for the surrounding area is jeopardized by increasing density in this manner so close to intersections already under pressure of increasing traffic. I do not live adjacent to the property but in Winter Park for 50 years and worked on selective development projects in commercial areas in the past. I am a supporter of aesthetically well planned and needed projects but this seems out of character and scale for the area.

    Reply
  5. Another Day in the Concrete Canopy says:

    I think this one is really simple: the minimum lot size for a PURD zoning is 2 acres. The ANSAKA proposed development is 1.8 acres. End of story

    Reply
  6. Anonymous says:

    This development will create added traffic on Aloma (which is already heavy at peak hours). For those of us with small children riding bikes to and from school, for the runners, the dog walkers and everyone who enjoys walking around the neighborhood, the added traffic and noise will have an important adverse impact on our DAILY lives.

    Reply
  7. Nora French says:

    Traffic on Aloma is not heavy just at peak hours. It has been too heavy all day for years. Unlike the too heavily trafficed Highway 1792 in Maitland which was mentioned in an article some days past, Aloma has no areas of insets of 3 lanes or turn lanes.Aloma and Lakemont should not have to bear any more traffic and all the negatives that go with extra heavy traffic like injuries, smog, irritated drivers, too long a time to get home and worn out roads. I really do not know what Winter Park is thinking, or if they are thinking at all, with all the increased Density.

    Reply
  8. WWLFS says:

    If Lurlene Fletcher was still with us, God rest her soul, she might say, “Why you building townhouses on single family lots? That’s for house, not for townhouse. Where will all the cars park?”

    Reply
  9. Jennifer Anderson says:

    Someone above asked, “Why, just why?” Planning & Zoning approved this 7-0 with minimal input from the community. It’s well known that citizens can share at the P&Z meetings but the committee members rarely respond or discuss the issues presented.

    Why is this? Because all 7 members were appointed or re-appointed by the current mayor. You’re not going to get P&Z members with diverse points of view until we elect a mayor who allows his/her fellow commissioners to nominate P&Z members with varying views on development. The current P&Z seems hell bent on unmitigated development and density.

    Finally, there’s an erroneous belief by the current mayor (according to his coffee talk) that WP needs more development. This is absolutely not true. We don’t need it for tax purposes…more development may even eventually hurt our tax revenue when property values stagnate due to traffic, crime, commercial encroachment, etc. Good development is great — as long as it’s in scale and helps our community. However, development for the sake of development is hurting our community — and NOT necessary for Winter Park’s financial health.

    Reply
    • Jennifer Anderson says:

      Wanted to correct my last comment. I was told that Laura Walda (on P&Z) voted against the proposal. Apparently she doesn’t always vote in lock step with the other 6 members. She takes the zoning codes seriously.

      Reply
  10. An Incovenient Count says:

    I’ve been asking around town. I can’t find anyone who voted to re-elect Mayor Leary last month in the municipal election.

    So where did the 3,313 votes he was reported to get come from?

    Reply
    • This is weird says:

      Try this. Google “mayor phone 3313”

      You will find hundreds of phone numbers of mayors across the country with the last four digits 3313.

      Did you know that they don’t ever actually count the physical paper ballots that we mark when we vote? They just run a tape from the computer. And they use that to say how many votes everyone got.

      There is no human who audits election results.

      All the taxes we pay, all the energy and emotion we put into voting, and nobody checks to see if they got the vote count right.

      Reply
      • Anne Mooney says:

        According to former Commissioner Tom McMacken, who served on canvassing boards in several Winter Park elections, the ballots are counted by machine, but any ballot subject to dispute is physically examined by human members of the canvassing board for that municipality or county.

        Reply
        • Pitt Warner says:

          Tom dresses up in funny costumes on the weekends and thinks its 1533 AD. I seen him at Dinner on The Avenue. I’d only trust him to pour me some mead and wine. Just sayin’

          Reply
  11. Beth Hall says:

    It is very appropriate at this time for all citizens to ask the question as to how and why this proposal, which was so grossly inappropriate under any conceivable interpretation of our zoning code and comprehensive plan, was approved and passed along to the commission. Period.

    Two unelected bodies- city planning staff and the Planning and Zoning Board- approved this wildly deviant and even dangerous plan and sent it up for Commission approval. This should NEVER have occurred. Even the commission made it clear that if the Applicant had not tabled the matter, they would have voted unanimously to deny all 3 ANSAKA requests. (And this is a very pro-development commission.)

    I use the word “dangerous” deliberately.

    Approval of the plan would have placed citizens literally in harms way due to traffic and safety concerns generated by this proposal. It also would have endangered the single family R-!A character of a neighborhood which has existed for time out of mind.

    And, it is NOT OVER yet. The tabling means this guy gets to come back. When he does the public will have ONLY 15 days to react once notice is given. Citizens must remain engaged and vigilant. Keep your eyes and ears open!

    Reply
    • Edward Sabori says:

      Beth,
      Can’t say that I disagree with your position. Not sure I would place a yellow sign in my yard, but certainly support you. Best, Ed, or Edward

      Reply
      • Beth Hall says:

        Ed, I sincerely appreciate this comment from you. Thank you.

        I suspect that if you lived on one of the adjacent single family parcels or on one of the streets that will become a “de facto” driveway for the project (if ultimately approved), you MIGHT even have displayed one of the yellow signs in your yard. Proximity to ground zero for this proposed project tends to make one a believer.

        Affected residents were seeking any means to raise a collective voice to the decision makers- as well as to the developer. The developer placed the tips of his index fingers into his ears…and hummed loudly.

        Reply

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