First, you need to know that I do not have and never have had any business dealings involving Winter Park commercial property. The only property I own in Winter Park is the home I live in. My only interest is the pursuit of rational, positive, and professional governance for Winter Park.
If you take a minute to get past ethics issues, campaign misrepresentations, and propaganda you will see there is a fight going on in Winter Park that is unnecessary, expensive, and dangerous. The fight is between owners of property in Winter Park and a group of extremists led and indulged by David Strong.
Read about the history of slander in Winter Park, and then read this letter from a law firm representing some owners of Winter Park commercial property. Who is threatening whom?
As the letter linked above makes clear, the rules that guide redevelopment in Winter Park (the Comprehensive Plan) have been re-written by David Strong and his Board appointees so as to lower the value of both commercial and residential property. We already have strict rules governing commercial redevelopment in Winter Park yet David Strong is working to effectively “down-zone” hundreds of millions of dollars of Winter Park real estate. Any redevelopment of any significance already requires majority City Commission approval under previous zoning. The new rules require a super majority City Commission vote, or in addition, formal amendment of the Comprehensive Plan (a long and risk prone process) to get any financially viable downtown redevelopment approved. No one in their right mind will pursue any investment in this environment.
This is not about preserving the character and quality of Winter Park. This is about undermining the legitimate interests of every Winter Park citizen for the sake of an extreme, myopic agenda.
This is not about huge office buildings and apartment complexes being built in Winter Park. This is about further restricting already restrictive building codes to LOWER property values and deter redevelopment activity. [Edit February 11, 2009: This is not meant to imply that David Strong is trying to reduce property values although he has never indicated his intent in this regard. I am stating that lower property values are expected to result from policies he supports and votes for.]
If you read the proposed land use rules in context you can only conclude they are born from resentment and a desire to seek retribution for some sin or other fixed in the minds of those making up the rules. These new rules have in fact been “made up.” There is no social or financial basis for them, only the personal opinions and biases of the “community volunteers” working tirelessly to impose their agendas at your expense.
Unnecessary: Making already restrictive rules MORE restrictive is equivalent to shooting ourselves in the foot. It LOWERS property values and DETERS redevelopment. Do you really care whether a three or four story building is built downtown so long as it is architecturally compatible? If so, why? (Please let me know.)
Expensive: David Strong has already cost us $4,000,000 stopping a redevelopment project and he is working to spend millions more of our money without a citizen vote to force through the acquisition of the existing post office property. We all need to understand that risk NOT assumed by private investment in Winter Park redevelopment transfers risk to us, the residents of Winter Park. We also need to understand that redevelopment serves social purposes and finances our quality of life (our successful Community Redevelopment Agency is an example of what can be accomplished).
Dangerous: David Strong and those indulged by him and supporting him are the single most divisive set of personalities I have ever come across. The continued dissension, resentment, righteousness, and conflict nurtured by this small group, combined with the continued distraction and expense of law suits (more are coming) about redevelopment can only further harm our city. Bad decisions and economic conditions have already contributed to a $3,200,000 reduction in our city budget just this year. More pain is on the way and David Strong will only continue to make things worse.
We need to support economic renewal. Nobody who cares about Winter Park believes economic renewal means high rise apartments and office buildings with huge parking garages. It does not. It simply means we pursue economic activity with common sense and a focus on having redevelopment finance an improving quality of life and sustain our ability to keep Winter Park unique and independent.
STOP THE DAVID STRONG MADNESS BY VOTING FOR KEN BRADLEY FOR MAYOR
It is time to thank David Strong for his service and to elect a rational, positive, and professional leader as Mayor of Winter Park. Your vote for Ken Bradley is a vote for a positive future for Winter Park.