Mixed Use Zoning
Coming Soon to Orange Avenue
Orange Avenue may be in line for a major facelift. There is even a chance we will finally see some progress at Progress Point. What’s going on?
Commissioners met early on the morning of July 10 to discuss Mixed Use zoning on Orange Avenue. The discussion was led by Planning Director Dori Stone. The purpose of the meeting, said Stone, was to “discuss . . . the development of a Mixed Use Future Land Use category and companion zoning district.”
City Codes Already Permit Mixed Use Development.
Mixed Use districts are not new to Winter Park. Successful examples are Park Avenue, Hannibal Square and Winter Park Village. These districts are low intensity, a product of historic development patterns and are of walkable pedestrian scale. All have some form of shared parking. And what draws people to all three areas and persuades them to leave their cars for a while is open, visible, accessible green space with park amenities and plenty of trees.
So, why not stick with what we have?
Presently, Mixed Use zoning is allowed in certain areas — mostly downtown. The Commission’s discussion was about gateway corridors that are not part of the downtown Central Business District. The main gateway corridors — 17-92 from the north and south and Aloma / Fairbanks from the east and west – are crying out for Mixed Use. As they are now, these roads are better suited to fast cars than they are to foot traffic. To accommodate those cars that do occasionally stop, surface parking consumes a large, usually over-heated area – again, not friendly to folks on foot. Would the City be better served to create incentives in these areas for developers who would like to show some love to these unlovely corridors and create some attractive human-scale development that would draw some pedestrian and bicycle traffic?
Why Not Start with West Fairbanks?
After all the millions spent on sewers, lighting, repaving and undergrounding on West Fairbanks, wouldn’t this be the logical place for a Mixed Use pilot program? Instead, the City has chosen to tackle a more manageable corridor – Orange Avenue. According to Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) figures, Orange Avenue carries about 15,600 cars each day. Compare that with Aloma, which carries as many as 46,000 cars a day. FDOT website notes these figures are 10 years old – so today’s counts are possibly higher.
Orange Ave. Property Owners Have Repeatedly Approached the City
When she was asked why the City chose Orange Avenue for what will probably become a Mixed Use pilot project, Planning Director Dori Stone wrote in an email, “Staff has done quite a bit of work on Orange Avenue already and it seems a natural choice with large property owners along the Orange Avenue corridor that are interested in working with the city.”
According to Stone, over the past 18 months or so, the City has been working with property owners like Mary Demetree, Roger Holler, Jewett Orthopaedic, Lumber Yard LLC and, not least, the City of Winter Park to determine what can be done to create a ‘sense of place’ along Orange Avenue that would make it compatible with the rest of Winter Park.
Developers Seek ‘Flexibility’ Beyond Current Limits
In a memorandum prepared for the July 10 Commission work session, Stone wrote, “Many of the larger property owners would like to see the flexibility to move beyond the commercial development limits of an FAR (floor-area ratio) of 45 to 60 percent.” She continued: “. . .several of them are interested in making improvements that would provide infrastructure and open space improvements along the corridor that may not be limited to their property, but would benefit the entire city.”
‘Trickle Down’ Development
The theory is that if the City grants these developers greater density and intensity, in return they would cooperate with one another to create a pedestrian-friendly environment with more open green space and park amenities, improved traffic circulation and shared parking within the zone of the pilot project. In this way, substantial benefit would accrue to all the citizens.
Mixed Use Overlay
Stone is suggesting a Mixed Use zoning category called an ‘Overlay.’ The Overlay zoning would “sit on top of the current zoning.” In essence, this would enable a developer who wants Mixed Use to build it, while a present or future landowner whose property does not conform to Mixed Use and who does not want to redevelop could continue to operate within the existing zoning guidelines.
“The City Needs to Take the Lead”
Stone pointed out that the main reason Hannibal Square is so successful is that at the outset, there was a professionally produced master plan. She urged the City to engage an urban designer to create such a master plan for Orange Avenue – before any code is written or any development is approved.
Stone noted that both Hannibal Square and Winter Park Village had a single developer, so there is a certain homogenous quality to them that would not be present on Orange Avenue, which has several large landowners. Nonetheless, this is an opportunity to create another district within the City that has a distinct identity. Rather than approving projects one-by-one on a piecemeal basis, here is a chance to create a neighborhood with continuity and its own sense of place.
Comfort Zone is 10,000-Sqare-Feet
As the City embarks on formulating standards for Mixed Use, we should not lose sight of the fact that currently, any building over 10,000 square feet requires Conditional Use approval. The City’s comfort level with the size of a building has a well-defined limit – and the body politic has felt strongly enough to articulate it in the Comprehensive Plan and to require a developer to participate in a public hearing process to obtain approval to build anything that exceeds that limit.
How Far are We Willing to Move Out of Our Comfort Zone?
That Conditional Use provision has identified our comfort level. Will we be able to reconcile mixed use standards that allow buildings that large or larger as a matter of entitlement — without public hearing or input? Depending on how it is written, Winter Park’s Mixed Use overlay can end up looking like Winter Park Village – or it could look like Mills 50, both of which are successful Mixed Use developments.
From the Winter Park Comprehensive Plan:
Sec. 58-61, Establishment of Districts, article (a) (5)
“The city has developed over the years as a city with a unique character and environment. Since a primary goal of the city is to retain this environment as much as possible, this article must impose certain extraordinary restrictions on the use of land within the corporate limits of the city to insure that future development is in keeping with the existing development.“
Until a center turn lane is added to Orange Avenue, all I can think about is how much WORSE any development will make the traffic.
Has the city planner ever tried to make (or been stuck behind someone who is trying to make) a left on this stretch of road? Throw a Lynx in the mix and it’s really fun.
Perhaps taking away the somewhat dangerous street parking to add a center turn lane should be considered along with the development?
Let’s be honest here. Mixed use development on Orange Avenue equals more congestion, more money in developer pockets, and more developer-owned WP politicians. Too bad most of our populace is politically disengaged and unwilling to do anything but complain about the ever-increasing traffic and decreasing quality of life. So it goes.
Mr Kiamoto has a key statement in his comment. “Too bad most of
our populace is politically disengaged..”. I am calling to all Winter
Park residents to PAY ATTENTION to what is happening in your
town. It is your quality of life that is being affected by decisions on
Trying to engage with this and recent past city admins is like banging your head against a wall.
We tried with one mayor, some commissioners, political candidates (all undermined), supported by engaged longtime residents dedicated to preserving WP as a nationally (and internationally) renowned community for its cultural heritage, graciousness, village scale, ecological beauty.
But a few tacky developers in concert with a few city officials who have little or no sense of traditional WP community culture, values, norms, seem to have won out.
My neighbors and I never frequent any business on Orange Ave except for a paint store that has been a mainstay.
We never go to Park Avenue anymore
except to the Morse (we are all members).
The killing of the beautiful young high school student (blocks from the police station – why did no one call the police?) ruined Park Ave for us. The digital x-mas tree seemed sacrilegious.
With Rauvadage and the rest of 17-92, WP feels like a lost cause to us. We’re moving to still lovely communities — in the case of many neighbors and my own family, 4 generations of families.
At the same time, we respect and appreciate constructive engaged, political and community leaders and wish you all success. But we need to pay attention to health, family and quality of life issues in our retirement and we don’t want our children and grandchildren growing up in WP. The once great neighborhood schools are not that great anymore (albeit the WPHS baccalaureate program is still a draw for some).
Ten years of supporting some great leaders and candidates is enough. Early retirement should be enjoyable.
Sounds like the developers are trying to squeeze every last drop of juice out of the Orange.
When they’re done with it the rats will come by to gnaw on the peels.
Problem with Orange is there’s TOO MUCH parking. Same problem as with Park Ave. Both streets are much too narrow for on street parking. Skinny sidewalks and only hair widths between parked cars and through traffic.
Maybe next hurricane the City could evacuate Orange and pave over the on street parking spaces and re stripe the traffic lanes widening them before everyone came back to town. Unlikely because that would be an improvement.
Orange you glad you live in Winter Park?
Where else can you live where your City commissioners budget hunreds of thousands of tax dollars to tell you and the world what a great city Winter Park is?
And at the same time commissioners systematically go about forming policy to diminish your quality of life. All while increasing your taxes?
Let’s all give a big cheer for our city! Anyone?
C’mon now. All together. YIPPEEEEEEEEE
Dori, why not just call it what it is? “Please allow these wealthy and entitled developers – your friends Mr. Mayor and Sprinkel/Weldon, to do as they please.” Here we go again, more pretend debate leading up to substantial changes to the Comp Plan to benefit only the developers bottom line, not the residents who live here.
Why mess with something that ain’t broke – Orange Avenue is fabulous! It’s like the Denning Syndrome – a perfect road ruined by a bunch of yahoos.
Someone posted on Facebook recently that Lynx buses are now cutting through residential neighborhoods on the west side because the city has created such a giant mess on Denning and ancillary roads. Good job rocket scientists. Way to go! Continue to make peoples’ lives miserable. Who benefits from these senseless ideas, not us.
Two of the biggest about faces in city history :
1. Dori Stone at the 6/11/18 commission meeting on mixed use and Dori Stone at the 7/10/18 commission work shop on mixed use.
On 6/11/18 she talks about what past community input shows us about what the residents want to see as the DEFINING PRINCIPLES for mixed use. On 7/10/18, suffering from an apparent bout of amnesia she pushes the commission to act as a legislative body to impose their own vision of what the Orange corridor should look like.
2. Pete Weldon at the 7/09/18 commission meeting and Pete Weldon at the 7/10/18 commission work shop on mixed use.
At the 7/09/18 commission meeting Weldon asks: “Why is this dais above the people we serve?We should be inverting this stage that we sit at. Our speech is effectively their speech and they elect us to speak for them. Why we’re up here and they’re down there I have no idea frankly.”
Less than 15 hours later at the work session, Weldon sat mutely as Leary dismissed a mention of “community” input and declared essentially that as a “representative government” we don’t need no stinking community input, we’re doing this.
Zoning laws (truly) are designed to promote the health, safety and well-being of the populace. In the right hands, zoning laws are benign and they do exactly that.
But in the wrong hands, zoning laws are lethal. They can “kill” our way of life, our peaceful enjoyment of our property, our lives, and our environment.
This commission has demonstrated time and again that these laws are not safe in their hands. They are willing and able to “weaponize” the very laws which would protect us.
They approve an R-3 project where O-1 previously sat. And how do they do it?
Do they do it with R-3? That’s bad enough, but not “lethal”.
No, they do it with C-2, the Def Con One of all zoning. That designation is forever.
What they can build there now would kill you. (or at least break your mind.)
Just think what they can do with an overlay on the Orange Ave. corridor — a legally binding for all eternity overlay.
The majority of this commission, under Leary’s cheerleading hand, is weaponizing the zoning code right now. This Orange Ave mixed use overlay/ test case/ master plan is no joke.
For you to support the commission being able to proceed in this way you must accept the underlying premise that the public interest will be served by MORE INTENSIVE development on this corridor than what our codes currently permit.
Further, we will all pay dearly if we do not mobilize and speak out to keep any master plan or zoning district standards on the corridor within the parameters that this commission knows the vast majority of citizens want to see and can embrace.
Such is the fate of a populace that believes that their votes are actually being counted. “We have an election every year,” they cry. “We’ll win next time,” they insist. “Those commissioners better shape up or they won’t win re-election,” they continue.
But alas, elections in Winter Park are apparently little more than a ritual. An annual event where the residents dutifully march to the polls or mail in their ballots. And only minutes after the “polls” close the public is ceremonially informed of the names of those who the vote riggers have chosen to rule over them for the next year.
“That can’t be,” they retort. “I SAW my ballot going in the machine.”