Board Slogs Through Draft HP Ordinance
Segal Becomes Chairman
Using some pretty intense persuasive tactics, Mayor Steve Leary prevailed and his candidates for the Historic Preservation Board (HPB), former County Commissioner Bill Segal, Winter Park resident Laura Armstrong and architect Phil Kean, finally won approval from the City Commission in a 3 – 2 vote, with Commissioners Carolyn Cooper and Greg Seidel dissenting.
Segal to Head HPB
At his first HPB meeting on August 12, Bill Segal was elected Chairman by the four members present – which included Segal himself — replacing Interim Chair Rebecca Talbert. Phil Wood was named Vice-Chair. The fourth member present was Genean McKinnon, who nominated both Segal and Wood. Talbert expressed her willingness to remain as either Chair or Vice Chair, but her motion failed for lack of a second.
Once the question of board leadership was settled, the first order of business was a review of the revisions to the draft Historic Preservation Ordinance that will come before the Commission at the November 9 meeting.
Stone and Hamner Champion Historic Preservation
Frank Hamner of the Citizens’ Group that has been working on the draft ordinance presented the latest version to the HPB. During the arduous page-by-page review, Hamner and City Planning Director Dori Stone found themselves in the curious position of defending historic preservation to the very board that is meant to champion the cause.
HPB Is Not So Sure
Discussion among the board members was more about the disadvantages the proposed ordinance would create for individual homeowners than about possible benefits to the City of preserving historic buildings and districts. “Everything we’re doing here creates an added burden,” said Segal.
Hamner pointed out that, unlike other cities, Winter Park has no means, other than the ordinance, to protect a truly historic home.
Segal Balks at CLG Status
Segal expressed concern about the City’s application to the State of Florida to become a Certified Local Government (CLG). He worried about “extra levels of government” and additional reporting requirements. Despite Stone’s assurances that the City already complies with most of the CLG requirements, and that CLG status would not put any appreciable extra burden on city staff, Segal could not be persuaded that it is a good idea for the City to apply for CLG status. “We just don’t know what we’re buying into,” said Segal.
What Is a CLG?
According to Florida Department of State, “Certified Local Governments are municipal and county governments which have made historic preservation a public policy through the passage of a historic preservation ordinance. Participation in the CLG program allows local governments to partner with other CLGs to share preservation ideas and experiences, as well as the opportunity to compete for CLG grants.”
Stone pointed out that the intention to achieve CLG status has been in the City’s Comprehensive Plan for the past 14 years, though the City has never made formal application to become a CLG.
The CLG grants tend to be small — $50,000 or less – but they have their merits. For instance, the last inventory of potential Winter Park historic assets was done in 2001. Since that time, much has changed. We are told there is no money in the budget to update the inventory, but if Winter Park had CLG status, it would qualify for a grant to complete the inventory. The inventory would cost in the neighborhood of $10,000 and is the type of project for which the grants are intended.
August 19: The Slog Resumes
The August 12 meeting ground to a halt shortly before noon, as Genean McKinnon had to leave. With only three members seated, the board no longer had a quorum and could take no action. They resumed the long slog through the revisions on the afternoon of August 19. At that meeting, Dori Stone informed the board that they would receive a completed draft reflecting all proposed revisions, and that they would vote at their September meeting on whether to approve the ordinance.
Once the final draft has been approved by the HPB, it will go for public hearings in October and then for a final vote by the City Commission at the November 9 Commission meeting.
Winter Park: Unique for Not Being a CLG
So far, language stating that Winter Park will seek CLG status remains part of the existing Historic Preservation Ordinance. Sixty-eight Florida cities and 12 counties are Certified Local Governments. Most Florida cities that are known to have historic resources are CLGs – among them Tampa, St. Pete, Miami, Coral Gables, Sarasota, Orlando, and the list goes on until you get to the Ws, where you’ll find West Palm Beach, Windermere, and Welaka . . . but not Winter Park.
There appears to be firm conviction on the part of Mayor Leary, some members of the Historic Preservation Board and certain denizens of the blogosphere that CLG status will introduce yet another layer of government and bureaucracy, which will be onerously burdensome to city staff – though city staff doesn’t seem to see it that way. Planning Director Dori Stone, who would be the local official responsible for administering the CLG program, informed the HPB that the City of Winter Park already fulfills nearly all the requirements for being a CLG, and that any additional staff work would perhaps entail an extra 8 to10 hours per year.
What do the Real CLGs Tell Us?
The folks at Preservation Winter Park were also curious about the amount of work required of CLGs and whether the burden outweighed the benefits. They contacted people with firsthand knowledge, among them local officials who administer the CLG program in West Palm Beach, Lakeland, Miami-Dade and the City of Orlando.
This is what they were told.
West Palm Beach: “In no way has it been a burden. One hour a year of completing a report and emailing minutes.”
Lakeland: “To my knowledge, Lakeland has not been burdened by our CLG status whatsoever.”
Miami-Dade: “It’s never been a burden to be a CLG.”
Orlando: Small amount of staff time for reporting to state and National Park Service.”
Is This How You Would Describe Winter Park?
In her email to Preservation Winter Park, Kathleen Slesnick Kauffman, Historic Preservation Chief of Miami-Dade County, wrote: “It is not a difficult or lengthy process to become a CLG, but the whole point of the program is to provide a benefit to cities or counties that have an expressed interest in saving their heritage, and have made it a priority to do so by having a strong preservation ordinance.”
She continued, “Is this how you would describe Winter Park?”
In the final paragraph of the Voice’s article, Kathleen Slesnick Kauffman, Historic Preservation Chief of Miami-Dade County, commented: “…the whole point of the program is to provide a benefit to cities or counties that have an expressed interest in saving their heritage, and have made it a priority to do so by having a strong preservation ordinance.” She continued, “Is this how you would describe Winter Park?”
Reading Mayor Leary’s message in the current Winter Park Update, we seem to have the answer to this question. Sadly Winter Park stands to lose more of it’s heritage. Will the next generation know anything of it?
Certifications come with strings attached. Recall that our prior mayor governed by certification. Any kind of certification received by the City or any City staff member during his administration was routinely celebrated, regardless of the reasons for the certification, who awarded it, or why. So, in six years we became a City that had a group in Texas say our parks are almost the best in the country, a political appointee in Washington D.C. say that our traffic safety is really good, and a beer company say that our City is a bucket of grins for a Super Bowl commercial.
So what the prior mayor’s method of “leadership” created is a culture within the local government where what is valued is what outsiders, not Winter Park residents, say about Winter Park. And that’s why we are where we are today. Our police and fire departments are certified by outside groups. Does that effect the number of crimes in Winter Park? No. The number of fires in Winter Park? No.
If this ordinance is to be approved either at the HPB level or at the Commission this fall, it would be nice for a change if it had something to do with what Winter Park RESIDENTS want, rather than our City becoming yet another contestant, in yet another “Certification Idol” reality TV show.
Do we want to be like Miami-Dade County? Or Orlando? No, thanks. Eustis? No, thanks. Eatonville? No, thanks. Palatka? No, thanks. (excuse me, Bill Walker) Sebring? Daytona Beach? Why do we bow to CLG when every town/city in Florida, especially ones that are NOKD, are members? Kissimmee is a CLG. Sorry, that doesn’t impress me.
I thought WP was supposed to be unique, different, and yet some folks want us to submit our homeowners into a Federal Program that doles out favors in increments of less than $20,000-(check my facts, I believe my number is correct). CLG is not harmless. The program institutionalizes the planning elites as the controllers. It’s dangerous to any person who values Private Property Rights and freedom. Don’t believe me? Then why are a few folks pushing so hard for us to become a CLG and compete against 60 other cities for $20,000 grants? That amount is nothing in our $45,000,000 budget. It isn’t about the piddly grants. It’s about institutionalizing the control.
Since all the other cities say that it takes hardly any work to be a CLG, I would say that this is a “no brainer” for the City of Winter Park.
I am physically ill. What is the burden? The entire ordinance is VOLUNTARY.
Historic Pres’n Brd (HPB) & Certified Local Gov’t (CLG)
Thank you for the excellent article from 9/04, regarding the above. I know that I’m not the only resident who feels we’re being misrepresented & railroaded here. Hats off to the HPB for their diligent work in putting together the ordinance which is to be presented to the commission on Mon, 11/09.
Then, along comes Bill Segal, choice of Mayor Leary, who has no history of serving on our HPB, and who in one mtg of 3 HPB members & himself (just enough for a quorum), manages to be elected Chair of HPB! WOW! This voice of experience then takes issue with the proposed ordinance & enlightens us to his negative views & how, “Everything we’re doing here creates an added burden” (to city govt). He presents no substantial evidence of same.
He then makes a similar argument about CLG status stating we “don’t know what we’re buying into” in spite of Dori Stone’s clear explanation of what it is & why we only stand to benefit from this in terms of small grants & joining with other cities who have enjoyed the benefits of such certification.
I would like to think that our city govt is for the good of the citizens of WP & is open & transparent. Why do the recent happenings at the HPB mtg have some of us feeling that it is becoming more like a dictatorship?