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The Flawed Incompetent City Master Plan

Winter Park needs a master plan that DEFINES and ENCOURAGES redevelopment consistent with Winter Park’s character. Instead, Cooper has written and McMacken has pledged allegiance to a flawed city master plan that chases redevelopment away, and now they want you to agree this plan should not be changed.

UPDATE: The Winter Park City Attorney on February 8, 2010 confirmed that Cooper’s Comprehensive Plan has down zoned a substantial number of properties and that at least one property owner has a valid and substantial claim against the city for a regulatory taking under Florida law. Click here to listen. In short, the City will get sued for big bucks if it doesn’t find a way to change Cooper’s Comprehensive Plan very soon. (See: Cooper’s Comprehensive Incompetence.)

The Comprehensive Plan is our city’s master plan. It requires State approval and changes to the plan require a lengthy process to assure compliance and extensive notice. Further, the public is granted “enhanced standing” by State Law to challenge a variety of decisions in the comprehensive planning process, including changes.

Carolyn Cooper was appointed to the Planning and Zoning Commission in 2008 by David Strong and immediately began detailing new regulations according to her perception of what was required. The result is a plan that was written by someone with experience administrating contracts but no judgment acquired through city planning experience or redevelopment experience.

While there are many defects in this plan you don’t have to be an expert to understand why this plan is flawed. You just need to compare the elements of the plan required by the State with the myriad specific restrictions, limitations, requirements, prohibitions, and super majority votes embedded in the actual plan that are not required.

The key element of the plan that impacts redevelopment is the “Future Land Use Element.” All that is required here by the State is a clear description of the intensity (e.g., square footage per land area) and density (e.g., units per land area) for each zoning type (single family, apartment, office, commercial, etc.).

Cooper’s Comprehensive Plan intentionally and dangerously includes arbitrary specific height limitations, setback limitations, impervious coverage limitations, and numerous prohibitions against zoning changes, along with several new requirements for super majority approval. (For perspective, Cooper’s Land Use plan includes derivatives of the word “prohibit” 59 times in 65 pages of text. The City of Maitland’s land use plan uses such words once in their 14 page land use text, and does not include building codes as does Coopers’. The City of Coral Gables does not use such words at all in 9 pages of land use text.) Detailed controlling rules may be appropriate within building codes that can be considered and changed by a majority of the City Commission in a negotiation with those seeking to redevelop, but they don’t belong in the master plan UNLESS YOU ARE TRYING TO PREVENT REDEVELOPMENT.

Cooper’s Comprehensive Plan, endorsed by Tom McMacken, is the most extreme and limiting legislation in the history of Winter Park governance, and it will deter responsible and desirable redevelopment in the commercial areas of our city. UPDATE: The Winter Park city attorney recently confirmed this flawed plan includes down zonings and regulatory takings in violation of State law that expose the city to law suits. (See: Cooper’s Comprehensive Incompetence.)

The dangers of putting building codes inside the Comprehensive Plan can be seen in the history of Grenada Court on Park Avenue. This unique and much appreciated building would not have been built in the mid-1940’s if building codes such as setbacks had been included within the city master plan and if changes to that plan required a 4 of 5 (80%) vote of the City Commission to change (as both Cooper and McMacken support). Read the history of the approvals of Grenada Court.

This flawed master plan is a disaster for Winter Park, increasing pressure to raise taxes and decrease city service levels, putting downward pressure on our property values while putting our quality of life at risk. (See: Letter from the Orange County Appraiser.)

If the voters approve the Super – Super Majority referendum (Charter Amendment #10) the hurdles required to change this flawed plan will further dramatically diminish opportunities for  redevelopment, denying opportunities for incremental city revenues, and transferring tax burden from commercially zoned property to residential property (your property).

We can only move our city master plan in a reasoned and positive direction, AND preserve the unique qualities of Winter Park by voting FOR David Lamm and Peter Gottfried, and by voting NO on Super – Super Majority Charter Amendment #10.

For more on this subject see:

Cooper’s Comprehensive Incompetence
Chamber of Commerce Opposes Charter Amendment #10
Recommendations Regarding P&Z, Comprehensive Plan, and Land Development Code
Super Duper 2

Posted in Development, Election 2010, Policy.

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