Commissioners Debate Alternatives After Overlay Repeal

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The City of Winter Park City Commission convened a virtual work session on Thursday afternoon with only one official item on the agenda: open discussion regarding next steps for the Orange Avenue Overlay. The overlay initiative was recently passed and subsequently repealed by the newly elected commission. As more than two hours of discussion came to a close, the commission ultimately arrived at using an initial draft of the overlay proposal as its starting point for future discussions.

As the session opened, Winter Park Mayor Steve Leary alluded to “a loss for words” as the commissioners discussed various alternatives about how to proceed, seeming to all agree on the dissatisfaction with elements of the property corridor in question. Leary advocated the idea of seating an entirely new committee or task force to essentially start over and create more time for public input: “We’re nowhere. So why not start over again?”

Commissioner DeCiccio, who previously served on the Orange Avenue Overlay Committee, seemed to resist the idea of re-seating the committee, asserting there was agreement on most of the recently repealed proposal. “We’re 75% of the way there,” she remarked, but urged leaders to avoid “huge sprawl” as they contemplated next steps. Commissioner Marty Sullivan also disagreed with Leary, commenting that the proposal had “a lot of great stuff” within it. Sullivan also remarked the process had become “too adversarial” and the community “need[s] to get beyond” acrimony surrounding the proposal.

Leary argued against working with earlier proposal drafts as a starting point. “This is like Mr. Potato Head — taking pieces off and not thinking about what the ultimate outcome is.” Leary, speaking for developers, pushed for the creation and provision of guidelines so developers can invest in planning activities, describing anything short of that as a “fool’s errand.”

The city commission will discuss next steps at the upcoming meeting on Monday, April 27, 2020 at 3:30 p.m. The virtual session can be accessed online through the city’s website.

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Mayor Steve Leary and City Commissioners met virtually to discuss development district on Thursday, April 23, 2020.
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