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Developer protects parking lot

The Winter Park City Commission parried questions about the land-development code at Monday's meeting, including accusations that they were restricting projects.

The Winter Park City Commission parried questions about the land-development code at Monday's meeting, including accusations that they were restricting projects.

Isaac Babcock

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A Winter Park developer said he's worried that parking space for the Hannibal Square shopping and dining district could disappear if he sells a nearby parking lot to the city.

Development and restrictions on it once again dominated Monday's City Commission meeting, with developer Dan Bellows and a spokesperson speaking for more than 10 minutes about concerns that the city could be restricting their projects.

At the meeting Bellows expressed fears that the city might try to re-appropriate a parking lot that feeds Hannibal Square for other uses, effectively eliminating more than 60 parking spaces for the area and possibly cutting into business.

He said that in order to sell the lot to the city, it would have to remain a lot.

“That's the only reason I'd sell it for half price or a third of the price,” Bellows said.

Development Director Jeff Briggs said that the city is looking into his concerns, but that the city might need to use the lot, at least on a temporary basis, for other needs.

“We're concerned that we might want to use it for things other than parking,” Briggs said. That could include weekend festivals or even installing utilities.

Later in the meeting when arguing that her client should be allowed more C2 zoning in the city, Bellows' attorney, Becky Vose, accused some residents and board members of colluding to restrict the city's comprehensive plan and land development code.

“Mr. Bellows' projects have been targeted by a small but vocal cabal of anti-development of extremists throughout the creation of the current comprehensive plan and the land development code,” she said. “Let's not mince words. This is an antidevelopment land development code.”

That choice of words aroused the ire of Commissioner Phil Anderson, who chided Vose at the podium.

“Those types of insults aren't really permitted,” Anderson said.

The Commission voted 3-2 to pass the amended land development code.

@@Parks department hopes to revive finances@@

The city's revamp of the golf pro shop and its merchandising may already be paying off, according to parks director John Holland. He discussed a strategic plan for the parks division of the city to try to improve the city's aesthetics and its revenues at the same time.

He said he's trying to avoid creating or increasing fees for use of facilities in the city, so that more residents can use them without being priced out of the recreation department.

At the golf shop, a turnaround may already be imminent, he said.

“We are seeing an increase in merchandise sales,” Holland said. “And the hot dogs are moving really well.”