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.


  • 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

7 replies
  1. Barbara says:

    Thanks Beth. As always the sentinel warning us of the city’s further destruction of our fair town and quality of life for the interest of a handful of millionaires. Bah humbug!

  2. Jaggernaut says:

    “Open space can include green areas, hardscape areas, semi-pervious areas, balcony or roof

    areas that are open to the public and other similar-type spaces. ”

    This is quoted from the overlay draft by the steering committee.

    What the hey? This meaningful open and green space we are supposed to be getting by giving

    so much away to developers may be several stories above our heads. It may be concrete or

    stone. I don’t think Demetree Global’s roof top hotel deck is a place I can walk my dogs or feel

    grass under my feet. It is not what I envision when I envision park and open space in WP.

  3. WP Anon says:

    I agree with the “let’s see“ question raised by the writer. I’m also very concerned about how the map appears to be gerrymandered to favor commercial properties that are not necessarily contiguous to the Orange Avenue corridor. There was a lot of flowery language used by the city YouTube presentation about how this quarter will resemble Park Avenue & Hannibal Square, I’m not sure how that pertains to Fairbanks Avenue development. There is also no mention of how the Orange Avenue/Fairbanks intersection will be improved, currently it’s a debacle, and it’s quite frankly dangerous when it comes to dealing with the train tracks and backed up traffic. Perhaps a better thought is to divert traffic on S. Capen Ave. to Fairbanks Avenue from Orange Avenue.

    • Anonymous November 22, 2019 says:

      Allowing high density residential apartments/condos (R-4) to be built anywhere along the Orange Avenue Overlay will be a serious mistake! The character, charm, and treasured beautiful natural green space for which Winter Park is well known, is steadily being chipped away at by overdevelopment driven by short-sighted, profit-driven individuals and business concerns who care nothing about the negative ramifications of their actions, nor about exacerbating the unmanageable traffic loads on our already overburdened streets. Rather than creating a walkable, pedestrian friendly corridor which will support the developing character already beginning to flourish there, it will be stifled, suffocated, and snuffed out by increased density and height.

  4. Beth Hall says:

    In the interest of accuracy, I make the following clarification.

    The Commission adopted the newly revised comp plan, wherein the ability to seek future R4
    entitlements was removed, on 4-24-2017.

    But the date of the unanimous vote to approve the removal of R4 occurred 0n 12-12-16 ahead of the draft submittal to the State.

  5. Anonymous says:

    And of course those of us who wish to avoid the extra congestion on Orange Avenue caused by all this development will have To deal with the ridiculously diminished Denning Drive.

    • David Bond says:

      Now that the zoning board voted. How to prevent the worst? Maybe land conservation will stop undo development. If not what can stop the direction of high density development? The pro development votes continue to march on. What will you do next. An important question to answer and act on. Db. Davidbondjazz.com


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