How Shall We Grow?

Comp Plan Review Begins — Should You Care?

homepage-button-comp-planThe Comprehensive Plan review has begun in earnest.

The Comprehensive Plan – a.k.a the Comp Plan – is described by the City Communications Department as “the document that governs the City’s plans for growth through policies that guide development.”

Comp Plan = City Blueprint

The policies set forth in the Comp Plan protect and improve our city assets and provide for city infrastructure. In terms of importance to the city, the Comp Plan is second only to the City Charter. The Comp Plan is required by Florida Statute, Chapter 163.3161, and is given legal status mandating that public and private development must comply with the Comp Plan.

Deadline for Completion – 2/1/2017

The Comp Plan is updated every seven years to ensure it is in compliance with Florida statutes. Last reviewed in 2009, an update it is now due. The Commission has until February 1, 2017, to approve the Comp Plan and send a final version to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity in Tallahassee.

The City Planning Department will spearhead the review, with the assistance of the Comprehensive Plan Task Force — Nancy Miles, Laura Turner and Marc Reicher — and the City advisory boards that oversee the various elements of the Plan.

Don’t Give Up – Keep Reading (or skip this section and come back to it)

The Comp Plan consists of two major documents. The one entitled “Goals, Objectives and Policies” (GOP) is adopted by the Commission and carries the weight of law. The information from which the GOP derives is in a support document entitled “Data, Information and Analysis” (DIA). In our current Comp Plan, the GOPs and DIAs are organized into nine chapters, or ‘elements.’

Future Land Use – Includes map of land use allowed on every property in Winter Park.
Transportation – Addresses roadways, sidewalks, buses, rail and biking and walking trails.
Housing – Includes projection of future population.
Public Facilities – Infrastructure services such as sanitary sewer, solid waste disposal, potable (drinkable) water and storm water drainage.
Conservation – Defines conservation lands, air and water quality and water conservation.
Recreation and Open Space – Plans and policies to meet projects need for parkland and open space. Current level of service requires 10 acres of publicly owned park and conservation land per 1,000 residents.
Capital Improvements – This element is updated annually as part of the City budget process and includes all infrastructure required to support the population.
Intergovernmental Coordination – Outlines the City’s agreement with other government entities such as the FL Department of Transportation, Orange County School Board, St. John’s Water Management District and surrounding municipalities and counties.
Public Schools – Reflects agreement with Orange County Public Schools to provide facilities to serve resident school-aged children.

You Still Awake?

As always, the devil is in the details. Here is one example. If you go to the City website and click the “Comprehensive Plan” icon on the main page, it will take you to the Comp Plan. Under “Data, Analysis and Inventories” is a chart listing all parks and the precise acreage of each. The total acreage listed there is 296.45 acres.
dia-ch6-recreation-open-space.pdf

A document distributed by City Planning Director Dori Stone at the August 1, 2016 meeting of the Comp Plan Task Force, entitled “Park Level of Service Standards,” states Winter Park’s park and conservation land at a total of 346.16 acres.

Where Did That 50 Acres Come From?

On August 5, the City Communications Department wrote to the Voice, “Staff will need to research the differential in total acres. GIS is a factor, some new parcels were added, i.e., the West Meadow, and we need to research what others resulted in the difference.”

GIS, by the way, stands for Geographic Information System, which is a more accurate way of measuring land area. Even with GIS, however, as of this writing we are still not sure about those 50 acres. Part of the Comp Plan review process will be to manage discrepancies of this sort.

Why Does 50 Acres Matter?

At a level of service of 10 acres of park and conservation land per 1,000 residents, 346.16 acres would support a population of 34,616. (Winter Park population estimate as of 2015 stands at 28,967.) Since Winter Park is landlocked, how would we fit another 5,000 to 6,000 people? By increasing density. Where would we increase density? In those single-family residential neighborhoods the Comp Plan is meant to protect?

Is the Comp Plan Review Important to You?

If you care how this city will look in two or five or seven years, it is important. The Voice will post updates as the review process moves from Advisory Board to Advisory Board under the guidance of City staff and the Comp Plan Task Force. A “2016 Comprehensive Plan Timeline” is posted on the city website. 2016-comprehensive-plan-timeline.pdf
The City will update the schedule as necessary, and all meetings are open to the public.

As technical and wonky as it may seem, the Comp Plan review affects how we live. It is worthy of our attention. In the words of Commissioner Carolyn Cooper, our Comp Plan is “a contract between the residents of Winter Park and our government that defines how and where we will grow and what level of public services we will enjoy for the taxes we pay.”

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    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.

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