Ravaudage CDD Final Vote Set for Monday

Revenue-Sharing Dead For Now. Can Developer Succeed Without It?

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4/8/13 Story Update:
This afternoon, after a long discussion of the property rights of landowners and businesses that reside within the Ravaudage development, the City Commission voted unanimously to approve the Ravaudage CDD. WP Chamber of Commerce CEO, Patrick Chapin spoke on behalf of the CDD.

4/7/13 Story Update:
Chances are good that on Monday, April 8, Winter Park’s City Commission will vote “yes” for the second and final time to approve Dan Bellows’ Ravaudage CDD.

Monday’s likely “yes” vote will give the go-ahead to the creation of a Commercial Development District that will enable Bellows and his partners to elect themselves as the first Board of Supervisors in a brand new governmental entity.

Commissioners who question granting such broad powers to Mr. Bellows have learned that they have little choice in the matter. In response to questions from the Commission during a recent hearing, City Attorney Larry Brown advised that the city must approve a CDD application unless it has reasonable, legally compelling reasons not to. Learn more about CDD “General Powers” here, “Special Powers” here and overview here.

City Debate Not About Whether to Approve CDD, But How to Approve It

On March 25, in the first of two votes required on the matter, the Commission voted to amend and approve the CDD, but raised numerous concerns during the meeting. Despite their unanimous “yes” vote on the CDD, the commission insisted on a modification to the CDD that removed any linkage between the CDD and the “Interlocal Agreement” that would have granted the CDD millions of dollars in city subsidies. Another sticking point for Mayor Bradley, Commissioner Cooper and others was the CDDs power of eminent domain. The Mayor appeared to favor stripping the CDD of all eminent domain powers, but attorney Brown advised the panel that doing so would conflict with state law.

Good News, Bad News

By blessing the CDD, the city will enable the new entity to start raising money using tax-exempt bonds. The bad news for Bellows and company is that the Interlocal Agreement (ILA) has been pulled off the city commission agenda. It appears that the ILA has been tabled for now.

Part of the allure of the revenue-sharing deal with the city was the leverage the 35 year ILA payout would provide in the bond market. The Interlocal Agreement appears to have been an important element in Mr. Bellows overall plan to financially launch his 50+ acre development – important enough to create a CDD/ILA link that was, in the words of his own attorney, “unprecedented.”

During the March 25 Commission hearing on Ravaudage, City Attorney Brown characterized the linkage as “innovative . . . something I’ve never seen before.” Minutes later, Dori Stone, the city’s Development Director, informed the commission that it was actually the city’s own “Special Counsel”, Ken Artin, who formally requested the linkage. The commission was unable to directly question the counsel regarding his rationale for such an action because, as Mayor Bradley pointedly noted, the special counsel did not attend the hearing. Nevertheless, as reported by the Voice on March 25, the Commission’s response to the ILA revenue-sharing plan was overwhelmingly negative.

If City Withholds Interlocal Economic Incentive Payments, Will Ravaudage Falter?

Even though Mr. Bellows’ attorney, Jan Carpenter, readily agreed to remove any linkage between the CDD petition and the proposed Interlocal Agreement, past comments on both sides of the negotiating table lead to the conclusion that loss of Interlocal E.I.P. funds could seriously impact Ravaudage development. Ms. Carpenter appeared to support this conclusion at the city’s 3/19 Economic Development Advisory Board hearing on Ravaudage, stating that “I think that the Mayor said it best last night when he said ‘If you’ve got the CDD you’ve got the car, but if there’s no gas to go in it, it’s not going anywhere’ . . . so without the Economic Incentive Payments, this type of development – being an in-fill redevelopment project – it really probably doesn’t work . . .”

In the following email excerpt – obtained by the Voice in a public records request – Dan Bellows discusses Interlocal “EIP” (Economic Incentive Payments) and implores City Manager Randy Knight to “leave the interlocal agreement alone”:


“Randy, the below is part of an e mail I received from the CDD general council. I am not sure how all this is just coming up?

‘the City’s concern that EIP monies should be limited to improvements only after certain levels of development occurred- and that the EIP payments could be terminated if such levels were not reached. This would make any bond debt unmarketable as the CDD has no interest in the PD or other development rights on lands within the CDD. The plan now may be to limit the types of CDD infrastructure expenditures for which EIP can be used. Again – this could limit bond marketability if the CDD has to reconfigure its infrastructure program to meet the City’s criteria for development.’

‘If no private development occurs, there will be no buildings and no CO’s –therefore no utility revenues or ad valorem taxes – so no EIP to share!’ [Bellows’ emphasis]

We have little time to iron out an agreement and hope that you can direct the cities council to leave the inter local agreement alone with the exception of reducing the increase in ad valorem basis from 75% to a flat 50% and remove any comments about baseball or parking fee caps in garages during baseball games.”

If CDD Passes & Interlocal Fails, Is Another City Revenue-Sharing Deal Lurking in Our Future?

If lack of bond market support and/or denial of city subsidies effectively stalls Ravaudage development – or if the threat of a development bust appears credible – will the City Commission respond with a new package of economic incentives? Sources with city government experience tell the Voice that if ILA subsidies are denied at this point in time, they may ultimately morph into another city plan to underwrite Ravaudage development in the near future. One way or another, there appear to be several scenarios under which the city could find itself entangled in Ravaudage affairs and potential development shortfalls.

In the March 25 hearing, City Attorney Brown mentioned several financial scenarios that envision possible city involvement with Ravaudage that go beyond what is currently proposed (this testimony is included in the WPV video above):

Brown on CDD Bail-Out Scenario:


“The CDD itself doesn’t default, technically. It’s the landowners within the CDD who fail to pay their assessments . . . If the landowner defaults in payment of the debt assessments, then the CDD has an obligation under the trust indenture to foreclose that land . . . So the city is not at risk in any way – zero risk . . . Now if the CDD is dissolved or terminated, the city, at its option, can agree to assume the responsibility to provide services and – in that case – will assume the bond indebtedness, but only to the extent of the services that it’s taking over.”

Brown stated more than once that the city would never be liable for CDD/developer/property owner indebtedness unless the city is somehow motivated to voluntarily assume CDD debt.

Brown on Developer Bankruptcy Scenario:

“I don’t want them to issue a large sum of bonds and hold those monies in construction trust accounts, and then the CDD only goes so far into the actual construction leaving large sums of money in bond trust accounts – and then the landowners default, assessments stop coming in, the CDD now forecloses.

What usually happens is they get a foreclosure judgment, that’s assigned to a special purpose entity controlled by the bond holders – and then those people come in and ‘value-engineer’ the heck out the construction improvements, so you really don’t get what you contemplated getting with Mr. Bellows’ demonstrated history of development . . . You’re dealing now with banks and their consultants – because that’s been my experience – and they try to look at the construction improvement report developed by the district engineer and ‘value engineer’ it, because there’s financial incentive for them to preserve as much as possible, bond proceeds, in those trust accounts and not spend them on construction improvements.

And, so my concern is you could be on the hook for 30 years paying EIP if we’re not careful . . . So, that’s a huge issue we have to work through.”

City Hall Email Includes Strong Opposition to Revenue-Sharing

The prospect of sharing city revenues with Ravaudage developers has forged an unusual coalition of city officials who often have difficulty reaching consensus on development-related matters. Two of the more unlikely allies on this issue are Peter Weldon, Winter Park’s newest P&Z board member and City Commissioner Carolyn Cooper. Even though Weldon and Cooper both support the proposed CDD in one form or another, they – along with most of the city commission – stand with the many city residents who wrote in to city hall opposing the city’s revenue-sharing plan.

Leary: Is Revenue-Sharing All That Different from Past Developer Incentives Given by City?

Even though the winds of ILA disapproval were blowing strong during the March 25 hearing, Commissioner Leary boldly tread where few were willing to go. Addressing his fellow commissioners, Leary started out with a disclaimer: “I’m not crazy about this, the way it exists . . .” then began to tick off a list of concessions and variances the city has offered other area developments including the Alfond Inn and Unicorp’s proposed Lakeside center on Lake Killarney. Leary reminded the commission that “we do things for people all the time” and noted the “nine million dollars . . . for the Fairbanks sewer project” committed by the city.

Leary “Disturbed” by Tone of Ravaudage Funding Debate

Mr. Leary then turned to the tone of the funding debate as expressed by some citizen letters he’s read: “I’ve seen emails come across – and I’m also frankly quite disturbed that it’s an individual that [has received] most of the vitriol and not the project . . . We’ve approved projects up here – all of us – that have been for supporters of ours during our election campaigns, and for people who didn’t support us. And, hopefully we’ve all looked at those projects [and said] it’s either good for the city or bad for the city.”

Leary continued with a list of revenue-sharing pros and cons: “I’m not crazy about 35 years – I think that’s crazy . . . the total amount – I think we need to address that . . . What I did like about it is that it’s incremental revenue . . . I keep trying to tell people . . . they say ‘You’re looking at taking money from us.’ I say ‘No we’re not’ . . . If we can help incentivize the development over there, it’s incremental tax revenue – it’s not coming out of anybody’s pocket in the city of Winter Park.”

Mr. Leary’s comments and comments from other commissioners can be viewed in the WPV Video below.

Monday’s Commission meeting starts at 3:30 P.M.

WPV requested comment from the Mayor, Commissioners and Dan Bellows. No comments were received as of press time.

3/25/13 Story Update:

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Dan Bellows can’t have been happy with the reception his “Interlocal” revenue-sharing proposal got at City Hall tonight.

Though it seems likely he’d gotten wind of commissioners’ objections prior to the hearing, he may not have been prepared for the intensity of the commission’s negative response.

No vote was held on the Interlocal agreement tonight, but Bellows now knows he’s got a lot of work to do to move commissioners in his direction.

On the other hand, Commissioners were far more supportive of Bellows’ petition to create a CDD. The CDD will enable him to raise his own development funds using tax-free municipal bonds. Unlike the Interlocal agreement, the CDD will not entitle Ravaudage to any share of city/CDD property taxes.

The Voice’s next installment of Ravaudage coverage will include more reporting and video of tonight’s City Commission meeting.

Though this week did not start well for Dan Bellows and his development team, last Monday marked the beginning of a sort of official “debut” for Bellows’ Ravaudage — with Bellows shuttling his party of legal and financial experts from one city event to the next. First up last week was Monday’s Ravaudage workshop, followed the next day by another appearance of the experts at the Economic Development Advisory Board (EDAB). Click here to read Ravaudage column by Owen Beitsch, Asst. Chair, EDAB.

Last Tuesday’s EDAB meeting featured questions from the EDAB panel and testimony from Bellows’ team that ultimately garnered an EDAB “thumbs up” for Bellows’ CDD and multi-million dollar revenue-sharing proposal. However, on Friday, Bellows’ development vehicle blew a tire when news leaked out that Ravaudage had lost its bid to build a new baseball stadium for Rollins and a local minor league team.

The proposed baseball stadium was seen by some at the city as an important factor distinguishing Ravaudage from other nearby developments that are expected to emerge soon. Dori Stone, Winter Park’s Economic Development Director, went so far as to name the stadium as an important reason the city is considering subsidizing Ravaudage development.

Developer Backs Off Request for 75% of Ravaudage Tax Revenues

In an interview last Friday, City Manager, Randy Knight revealed to the Voice that the 75-25% revenue split with Ravaudage (proposed for the first five years of the deal) is now off the table. Instead, the city will consider an even 50-50 split of revenues for the 35 year life span of the Interlocal agreement. Sources inside city hall believe that this concession is being offered as a way to help eliminate city losses projected during the first five years of the revenue-sharing period – and to smooth the way for approval of the project.

Will Dan Bellows Be First “Mayor” of Ravaudage?

At Monday’s City Commission workshop, Bellows’ financial analyst, Brett Sealy, bluntly described the political power the city will be granting the developments if it approves the CDD: “CDDs are governed very much the way [the city is] governed. A CDD board is, initially, appointed by the land owner. It’s got five supervisors.” Sealy confirmed that Ravaudage will eventually be run by “qualified electors within the district” who are elected starting six years (or more) after the initial board of supervisors is set up.

Sealy said that many governmental functions will remain with the city of Winter Park including police, fire, zoning and other regulatory powers. However, as City Manager Knight told the Voice, some regulatory powers including the right to grant “conditional use” variances to Ravaudage businesses and residents will/may reside with the Ravaudage board—a right established prior to Ravaudage annexation into the city of Winter Park. Also, according to Ravaudage attorney, Jan Carpenter, the district board will have the right to foreclose on properties within the CDD that default on CDD assessments.

What, Exactly, is City Getting for Its Money? Can Developer Change Plans at Will?

Sources inside City Hall tell the Voice that Ravaudage developers have wide latitude to pick and choose the businesses and residents who will ultimately make up the commercial/retail/residential mix inside the CDD. It appears that the developer is limited mainly by the overall percentage of each type of occupancy noted on his current plan. (See land use details in earlier story below.)

A common refrain among some city staffers and politicians on the question of sharing city property taxes with Ravaudage is: Would you rather have 50% of something or 100% of nothing? Others have noted that developers have successfully invested — and continue to invest — their own money on significant developments within a mile of Ravaudage. Winter Park Village is one notable example. As reported earlier, City Manager, Randy Knight told the Voice that he believes development at Ravaudage would proceed at Ravaudage without funding from the city — albeit more slowly.

On Friday, Knight told the Voice he believes that — despite the loss of the proposed baseball stadium — the city’s investment in Ravaudage development can still be justified as a way to fast-forward infrastructure in the area. Knight also pointed out that infrastructure assistance is not needed by other nearby developments, because of the better-developed infrastructure in those areas.

Winter Park Voice readers who closely follow development in the Lee Road/17-92 area have pointed out that traffic impact studies at the county level are not yet complete — leading to the conclusion that lack of definitive transportation studies in the area may, at some future date, impact development in and around the Ravaudage traffic corridor.

Is “Blight” a Development Strategy?

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City Development Director, Dori Stone, Mr. Bellows and others at the city have defined the Ravaudage development as a “blighted” section of the city with poor infrastructure. Advocates of the development proposal have leaned heavily on this designation to justify the extraordinary support being asked of the city.

There is no question that much of the Ravaudage area, which was governed by Orange County before annexation into Winter Park, has suffered from under-developed infrastructure for many years. It’s also true that Mr. Bellows has owned many of these properties for years.

During a recent commission hearing on Bellows’ blighted properties on Winter Park’s Westside, local builder John Skolfield characterized Bellows’ development strategy as “Rezoning by neglect.” Skolfield’s colorful presentation – and Bellows’ even more colorful four-word rebuttal can be viewed (at 21:00) by clicking the WPV YouTube image below.

Will Our Children Be Telling “Bellows Stories” 50 Years From Now?

Dan Bellows appears to be well on his way to establishing himself as a gifted and troublesome local legend. Over the many years that Bellows has worked with Winter Park’s politicians and regulators, he’s established a reputation as a hard driving, but persuasive negotiator in his interactions with city staff, board members and commissioners.

The Orlando Sentinel’s Scott Maxwell just re-posted an old news story on his blog that details Bellows’ history including a tribute to his ability to get his projects approved under the most trying circumstances, including the time Bellows “got into a physical fight — during a planning and zoning meeting at Winter Park — and still won 3-2 approval on the project he was seeking, even after the police had been called.”

Sometimes, however, Bellows’ intensity backfires, as illustrated in a recent Observer story featuring Maitland Councilwoman Bev Reponen accusing Bellows of attempting to “bully” the Maitland city council and staff in recent Ravaudage-related negotiations.

Even though Bellows’ property acquisition tactics and political maneuvers sometimes rub city residents and politicians the wrong way — he has often succeeded in convincing Winter Park’s P&Z members and city commissioners that what’s good for Dan can also be good for the city.

The most recent case in point is Bellow’s successful bid to get the city of Winter Park to rezone his properties on Lyman Ave, a few blocks from city hall. Even though the developer did not get all he asked for, he did manage to get the city to change several westside single-family residential lots to R-2 multi-family zoning.

Westside Express — First Stop: Planning & Zoning Board

Bellow’s first stop in his attempt effect this change was an appearance before the city’s Planning and Zoning board. He managed to win over one or more reluctant board members by insisting that his plan to get the westside property rezoned was the only way he could seal a deal to sell the properties to another developer. One reluctant member, architect Randall Slocum, had trouble understanding why Bellows needed to rush the approval, instead of waiting for an upcoming review of city-owned property adjoining Bellows’ properties. Board chair, Sara Whiting, voiced the same concern.

Board interest in waiting for the review appeared to be an attempt to better understand whether Bellows’ plan to introduce multi-family housing into the historic single-family-zoned westside neighborhood would be a good fit with plans to develop adjoining properties. However, any reluctance on the board was overcome shortly after Bellows sat in the almost-deserted commission chamber loudly repeating over and over that any delay would “blow the whole deal.” Board member Tom Sacha took Bellows’ plea to heart and repeated it on the dais as he advocated for a quick decision by fellow board members that would approve the rezoning and send it on to the city commission for final approval.

Soon after, the P&Z board endorsed the rezoning of the Lyman Avenue property in 6 to 1 vote, with Sara Whiting casting the only “no” vote.

Westside Express — Second & Final Stop: City Commission

When the rezoning proposal moved to the city commission for approval, Bellows once again encountered — and once again overcame — reluctance to approve his request. One of the reluctant commissioners was Sarah Sprinkel who, at the start of the hearing, declared “We’re talking about changing the rules to all these families . . . they are all single-family homes . . . we’re impacting those people and I just don’t want to do that. I just think that’s wrong . . . What if this happened in my neighborhood? . . . I would be fighting it tooth and nail.” But after many comments by other commissioners, pro and con — and impassioned pleas from Bellows and a Bellows opponent — Bellows once again worked his magic: Sprinkel reversed herself and joined Commissioner Leary and Mayor Bradley in approving Bellows’ multi-family re-zoning request on a 3-2 vote.

WPV requested comment from the Mayor, Commissioners and P&Z board members. None were received as of press time.


3/22/13 Story Update:

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Earlier today, the Voice officially confirmed whispers within the community that the plan to build a new baseball stadium at Dan Bellows’ Ravaudage has fallen apart.

In an interview with the Voice this afternoon, City Manager, Randy Knight, stated simply that “The group interested in bringing minor league baseball to Winter Park has decided not to locate at Ravaudage.”

Who Put the Kibosh on Ravaudage?

City officials have not been at liberty to reveal which team has been negotiating with the city and developers for the new stadium. However, an article in Ballpark Digest suggests that it is the Brevard County Manatees: “It’s no secret the Manatees have laid the paperwork and groundwork for a move to the greater Orlando area . . . The plan from developer Dan Bellows calls for a new $12-million ballpark to house both the Rollins baseball program and the Manatees, replacing Alford Stadium at Harper-Shepherd Field for the Tars and Space Coast Stadium for the Manatees.”

The Digest admits that the plan was “not written in stone” and now it appears that the focus is shifting elsewhere in Winter Park, or beyond. City Manager Knight remains hopeful, adding that “We’re looking at other locations” within the city.

The Voice will publish more Ravaudage news and analysis soon. Stay tuned.


3/17/13 Story:

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Longtime Winter Park developer, Dan Bellows, has been assembling a 54 acre patchwork of properties on the corner of Lee Road and 17-92 for well over a decade. And now, after talking to City Hall for years about his Ravaudage development, he’s within weeks of securing a Community Development District (CDD) “partnership” with the city.

This partnership will provide significant infrastructure funding for Ravaudage. The CDD and an accompanying “Interlocal” agreement would set up the CDD – which will be controlled by Bellows’ development company, Benjamin Partners, Ltd. – to receive/raise close to $70 million in tax revenues, fees and bond money generated by the district over a span of 30+ years. These funds will be earmarked for infrastructure development within the district, but will not exceed the actual cost of development and/or bond debt, according to Randy Knight, Winter Park’s City Manager. Infrastructure includes parks, recreational facilities, water, sewer and power lines, traffic lights and other similar structures.

City’s Ravaudage Workshop Set for Tomorrow at 4:00 PM

This coming Monday, March 18, at 4:00 PM, the City Commission has scheduled a workshop that kicks off the final stretch of hearings required to give Bellows and his development company the permissions and revenues he’s requesting from the city. These City Commission hearings are tentatively scheduled for March 25 and April 8.

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In an interview with the Voice on Friday, City Manager Randy Knight characterized the proposed CDD as a sort of “Homeowners Association” writ large – “a governmental entity” with “certain powers” including the authority to “assess properties within that district for infrastructure . . . and only within the district. No properties excluded from the district can be assessed. It can build infrastructure; it can bond using tax-exempt debt, which is a huge
advantage . . . they will have a board, just like a city commission.”

This board will be comprised (initially) of the current property owners, Bellows’ Benjamin Partners. Eventually, however, other businesses and residents of the Ravaudage district will take positions on the governing board.

Knight pointed out that regulatory powers including the right to issue building permits will be retained by the city of Winter Park. And, according to Knight, Ravaudage is still responsible for paying development-related impact fees to the city, which will not be shared with the CDD, should it be approved by the commission.

Documents created by the city’s Economic Development Advisory Board (EDAB) on December 18, 2012 show that the development will include:

–489 residential units
–320 hotel rooms,
–323,100 sq. ft. of retail space and
–891,000 sq. ft. of office space.

What Happens If City Doesn’t Approve Funding?

City Commissioners could decide to approve the CDD, but not the Interlocal agreement. Without an approved Interlocal agreement and the millions of dollars it obligates the city to share with Ravaudage developers, Bellows and Benjamin Partners would have to raise funds by selling tax-exempt CDD bonds and by other conventional means on the open market. City Manager Knight commented that this approach would undoubtedly slow – but not stop – the pace of development at Ravaudage.

CDD Defaults Trigger Closer Scrutiny in Florida

CDDs are a tool used by developers throughout Florida to obtain upfront financing for their projects. In recent years, use of this tool has become controversial – primarily because a significant portion of these CDDs have gone into default leaving someone other than the developer liable for CDD debt.

Industry newsletters, press reports and other sources indicate that market declines in recent years have affected the CDD default rate – which is pegged variously at 15 to 25%. Richard Lehmann, a widely quoted analyst with the Income Securities Advisor investment firm, noted in 2011 that “there are presently 168 CDD districts in Florida which are in default on over $5.1 billion in bonds.” Lehmann, who also writes a newsletter for Forbes magazine, estimates that Florida is home to approximately 600 CDDs.

The questionable health of some Florida CDDs is a sticking point for some city residents who have expressed concern that the city may be “on the hook” for Ravaudage CCD payments if the developer defaults at some point in the future.

In his interview with the Voice, City Manager Randy Knight stated unequivocally that the city would not be liable if the Ravaudage CDD were to go into default: “There is no risk to the city at all.” Knight added that if the CDD defaults on it bonds, “The bond holders cannot come back to the city and say ‘We want our money’ . . . There is no way they come back on the city . . . We’re not putting the taxpayers of Winter Park at risk.”

How Are Funds Generated for CDD Developers?

The City Manager explained that the city’s deal (should it be approved by the commission) will involve two funding elements: the first being a CDD that will give Bellows and the Ravaudage principals the right to raise funds using tax-free bonds. The second element is an Interlocal agreement wherein the city will agree to hand over to Ravaudage developers a significant portion of taxes and other revenue the city receives from businesses and individuals residing INSIDE the Ravaudage development district for the next 35 years – not unlike the CDDs formed to fund Baldwin Park, Celebration and the Millenia Mall.

According to Mr. Knight, businesses located inside the special district will also be responsible for paying a Public User Fee or “PUF” to the developer that amounts to 1% of their revenues. These businesses usually pass on the 1% “PUF” assessment to their customers. PUF funds will be used for common area maintenance within the development. The City Manager noted that developers have the right to require this fee whether or not a CDD is created.

Knight: CDD shares in city taxes and fees collected only INSIDE the boundaries of the CDD

In response to community concerns noted during our interview with Knight, he stressed again that the city will only contribute to the CDD a share of taxes and fees collected from new businesses and new residents INSIDE the boundaries of the CDD – not from city revenues collected elsewhere in the city.

Knight confirmed that development inside the boundaries of Ravaudage, as currently envisioned, will include a mix of commercial/retail business, office buildings and Baldwin Park-style housing. Bellows, Rollins College and the city are also discussing the possibility of partnering on a baseball stadium that could house a professional minor-league team part of the year and also accommodate the Rollins team. The Voice requested documentation of stadium discussions, but was told that documents pertaining to that negotiation are not yet available for public review. Other sources tell the Voice that these documents are being shielded at the request of Rollins College.

How Will Ravaudage – With or Without CDD Approval – Impact City Life?

It is expected that upcoming Ravaudage hearings will give city officials and citizens an opportunity to address a number of concerns expressed in recent Voice interviews with city residents, including:

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–Traffic impact
–Impact on city services including police, fire and other vital services
–Whether independently-owned businesses and homeowners currently residing inside CDD boundaries will face forced sale through eminent domain if city approves CDD
–How the city plans to thoroughly vet those who will be running the CDD

A review of city documents that are available, including meeting minutes and other files, reveals the depth of detail and many pieces of the puzzle that Mr. Bellows and the city have been assembling since at least 2009. Some of those files can be viewed by clicking the buttons shown below.

Interlocal Agmt    CDD Agmt/Staff Review    2011 City Workshop

The following language is excerpted from the proposed Interlocal agreement sent to the Voice by the city on Friday, March 15. The entire agreement can be viewed by clicking the “Interlocal Agmt” button above.

From the Interlocal Agreement, Article 5 “Economic Incentive Payments” (EIP):

The value of EIP for each Fiscal Year shall be computed in the manner set forth in this Section 5.02.

(A) Construction of the Project and its various components as described in Section 5.01, as supported by the District’s publicly funded capital infrastructure, is projected to generate substantial economic benefits to the City. EIP will be made by the City in proportion to the volume of the existing and future development located inside the City’s boundaries and inside the District as described below. The valuation for existing development within the District shall be determined in accordance with Section 5.04. EIP will be equal to the sum of the components listed below (and any other taxes levied by the City pursuant to Chapters 161, 202 and 206 Florida Statutes (or similar state law) and franchise fees:

1) An amount from the City’s general fund equal to a percentage of the increase in the City’s annual ad valorem property tax revenue attributable to the Project’s development and collected from properties located within the District. Such property tax increment shall be determined annually and shall be that amount equal to seventy-five percent (75%) (for the first full five years after the establishment of the District, changing to fifty percent (50%) thereafter) of the difference between:

a. The amount of ad valorem taxes levied each year by the City, exclusive of any amount from any debt service millage, on taxable real property contained within the geographic boundaries of the District and subject to the jurisdiction of the District; and

b. The amount of ad valorem taxes which would have been produced by the rate upon which the tax is levied each year by the City, exclusive of any debt service millage, upon the total of the assessed value of the taxable real property in the District as shown upon the most recent assessment roll used in connection with the taxation of such property by the City prior to the effective date of this Agreement.

c. Nothing herein shall require the City to establish a particular rate of millage except as provided or required by general law or previously existing bond covenants unrelated to District bonds.

2) An amount equal to 1/2 of the City’s 6% public service tax for electric service attributable to properties contained within the geographic boundaries of the District and subject to the jurisdiction of the District, to the extent such taxes are paid to or received by the City.

3) An amount equal to 1/2 of the City’s electric service franchise fee equivalent attributable to properties contained within the geographic boundaries and subject to the jurisdiction of the District.

4) An amount equal to 1/2 of the City’s 10% public service tax for water service attributable to properties contained within the geographic boundaries and subject to the jurisdiction of the District, to the extent such taxes are paid to or received by the City.

5) An amount equal to 1/2 of the City’s 10% public service tax for metered natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas both metered or bottled, and manufactured gas tax attributable to properties contained within the geographic boundaries of the District, to the extent such taxes are paid to or received by the City and it is reasonably determined that such taxes are generated by properties within the District.

6) An amount equal to 1/2 of the City’s public service tax for fuel oil, and any motor and other vehicle fuel taxes, attributable to properties contained within the geographic boundaries of the District.

7) An amount equal to 1/2 of the City’s local communications services tax attributable to properties located contained within the geographic boundaries of the District.

8) An amount equal to 1/2 of the City’s garbage waste franchise fee, if any such fee is collected by the City, from properties contained within the geographic boundaries and subject to the jurisdiction of the District.

(B) In each calendar year, the District will submit a Progress Report to the City outlining the volume of Completed Project Components in the previous Benefit Determination Year, as provided in Section 5.04.

(C) The City will compute the EIP based on the Progress Report according to the EIP Calculation as provided in Section 5.02.

(D) The City shall provide at the time of payment each year a report outlining all EIP revenues identified in Sections 5.01 and 5.02 of this Agreement as generated by properties located within the District. The City shall show within the report the revenues received per category and based upon the Progress Report submitted by the District, the EIP payments made as a percentage of revenues generated within the District. The Finance Director for the City shall certify the accuracy of the report to the District and remit said report to District with a sworn statement as to the accuracy of the report.

The Voice has asked Dan Bellows and all City Commissioners and the Mayor to comment on this story. None have commented as of press time.

This article has been updated to include more recent CDD default information.

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    By: Tom Childers

    Tom was the previous editor of the Winter Park Voice and a citizen of Winter Park. He was a tireless advocate for Winter Park.

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