News & Notes: Rollins apartments, McCraney property and leaf blowers

The developer of the first new building in the Orange Avenue Overlay is bringing significant changes back to the City Commission for consideration

Feb. 24, 2024

By Beth Kassab

The City Commission on Wednesday will hear a list of proposed changes for the three-story office building slated to be developed next to Seven Oaks Park along Orange Avenue.

The changes are the result of a lengthy public hearing two weeks ago during which a number of residents spoke both for and against the building.

Commissioners criticized the building’s height, which exceeded the limit, as well as its single-use purpose as an office building among other concerns.

Since then, Steve McCraney, the developer who wants to use the building, in part, as his corporate headquarters, has submitted the following changes:

  • The building will no longer be used exclusively for offices and now will be a mixed-use project. The other uses proposed weren’t immediately clear.
  • The building’s architecture has been updated (see rendering above).
  • The screen wall on the roof of the building intended to shield the air-conditioning unit and other equipment from view will now be shorter.
  • The green space planned in front of the building along Minnesota and Denning is adjusted, though the building will still provide more than the required number of parking spaces in the back.

After a first hearing, which didn’t require a vote on Feb. 14, commissioners are expected to take a vote on the project after the second hearing on Wednesday.

Rollins seeks approval for apartments

The liberal arts college that has helped define central Winter Park is expected to come back to the board for approval of new faculty apartments after pausing its request earlier this month.

Neighbors and commissioners have asserted the plan, which is intended to provide attainable housing close to campus exclusively for Rollins faculty and staff, doesn’t fit with the neighborhood and will decrease property values.

At the end of January, Rollins attempted to appease some concerns by lowering the number of units from 48 to 39 and reducing the size and length of the building along Welbourne Avenue.

The proposal is now for a three-story 72,933-square-foot building with 104 parking spaces, which meets code requirements, according to a memorandum from city staff.

Will residents vote on leaf blower ban?

In what has proven to be just as explosive of a topic as development in Winter Park, Commissioners could take a step this week in quieting — once and for all — the noise over leaf blowers.

Commissioners are expected on Wednesday to vote on an ordinance that could allow voters to decide if gas-powered leaf blowers should be banned.

The ordinance comes after Sen. Jason Brodeur threatened to pass a law to prohibit Winter Park and other cities from enforcing their own rules on the matter.

Brodeur demanded the city delay implementing the ordinance, which was originally passed on Jan. 12, 2022, until June 1, 2025, which would allow voters to first have a say on the March 11, 2025 ballot. Voters would be asked whether the gas powered devices, which many consider a nuisance both as noisemakers and air pollutants, should be banned.

Commissioners are expected to vote on doing just that. At the last meeting, Marty Sullivan and Todd Weaver signaled they were against meeting the senator’s demands while Phil Anderson and Kris Cruzada said they were open to it. Sheila DeCiccio, who is running for mayor in the March 19 election, is expected to be the swing vote.
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