FOLLOW UP: Take Action to Protect Your Rights

REMINDER: Please consider attending the Historic Preservation Ordinance Public Forum Thursday, May 7, at 9 a.m. or 7 p.m., at the Winter Park Welcome Center located at 151 West Lyman Ave. to voice your opposition. READ THE PROPOSED ORDINANCE HERE.

Send a message to city commission members telling them to remove all “historic district” language from the Historic Preservation Ordinance and to focus on ways to encourage voluntary historic designation for individual properties: [email protected].

Reducing the voting threshold for Historic District approval from 67% to 50+% will only create neighborhood disharmony and law suits. The current Virginia Heights Historic District came about only after strong objections. Supporters of a larger district lost the initial vote and gerrymandered the district down to the size where they knew they could get 67% agreement. This scenario is more likely with a 50% vote threshold and many more property owners will lose control of their property against their will if this becomes law.

The only criteria in the ordinance needed to qualify as a Historic District is that the neighborhood include homes “that embody the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction.” This is completely arbitrary. Every residential neighborhood in the city is at risk of being subject to Historic District designation with the attendant loss of control and property value.

Once Historic Designation is forced against your will based on arbitrary criteria, the Historic Preservation Board will arbitrarily control every aspect of any improvements on your property.

Comments to me from those supporting this ordinance include the following; “If someone doesn’t want to live in a historic district they can always move,” and “Its about time we preserved our historic treasures. Dont like it move out,” and “I see 1950’s small homes (1,500 to 2,000 sq ft) being replaced with three story, 4,000 sq ft homes.” This is NOT tolerant and reasonable thinking that strengthens our community.

There has been zero defense of this ordinance based on any objective criteria. We are just supposed to roll over and let people take control of our property from us without clear justification or compensation? Baloney. Those of us seeking reasoned policy for Winter Park need to object and object loudly.

Please consider attending the Historic Preservation Ordinance Public Forum Thursday, May 7, at 9 a.m. or 7 p.m., at the Winter Park Welcome Center located at 151 West Lyman Ave. to voice your opposition. READ THE PROPOSED ORDINANCE HERE.

Send a message to city commission members telling them to remove all “historic district” language from the Historic Preservation Ordinance and to focus on ways to encourage voluntary historic designation for individual properties: [email protected].

Regards, Pete Weldon


6 Responses to FOLLOW UP: Take Action to Protect Your Rights

  1. Pitt Warner says:

    I have 3 objections to the proposed revisions: 1) The property rights of the losing minority in neighborhood are quashed. Why would anyone force a neighbor to buy a certain type of window or door b/c you find their choice tacky or inappropriate? Very un-neighborly. 2) Most people purchased their homes w/o a historic designation. This revision is equivalent to down zoning, without giving any property owner a chance to be grandfathered in, years after the owner’s purchase. Why not let people opt out of the district? A single piece of paper. No hearings or judgments. Very neighborly. 3) If enacted, this will slow down remodels and rebuilds. Buyers may want a new home if the cost to repair or remodel is prohibitive, in their opinion. WP has a dynamic real estate market. This revision will upset the supply and demand. I want young families to move to WP. If they want a new home, let’s welcome their investment. It’s good for all of us.

  2. Another problem with arbitrary historic designations is that they are prone to misuse for political reasons. Here is an astounding case in Florida: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-11th-circuit/1643243.html, where the Mayor used the historic preservation ordinance as a lever in a personal feud. Please, let’s be careful.

  3. No Knee Jerk says:

    The proposed ordinance resulted from a knee jerk reaction long ago to the proposed demolition of the Capen house. But as the creative resolution of the Capen house proved, along with other examples such as Casa Feliz, the best definition of a historic landmark treasure is when citizens band together to make an offer to the owner to save a property, using PRIVATE means for a SPECIFIC property, and not a sweeping government solution imposed on residents for large neighborhoods of properties.

    The proposed ordinance is part of a troubling pattern of the Winter Park City Commission. Instead of using the force of ordinance as a last resort, they are quick to draw. Some other examples of Commission overreaching were the “anti-picketing” ordinance approved 4-1 in 2012 that makes it a crime punishable by 60 days in jail to criticize your neighbor if you do so on public property within 50 feet of their property line. This too was a knee jerk reaction to a Sunday School class who was peacefully assembled on the public sidewalk for about an hour for a couple of days holding signs supporting human life. Another instance was an ordinance passed by the Commission, that makes it economically impossible for a restaurant to open on Park Avenue unless it sells alcohol – a high profit item. The ordinance does this through numerous unfunded mandates specified in the ordinance. Some of these are required costly host/hostess, table service, specific foods and preparation, etc. that are allowed.

    The problem with the Commission’s pattern of using City ordinance power to get one’s way is that encourages others to do the same. So, should the historic preservation ordinance pass, those opposing it who favored other previously approved City ordinances that benefit only a few, have only themselves to blame for setting the precedent. This proposed historic preservation ordinance could be a good thing if it sparks public outrage about it first of all, and secondly builds public support for a temporary moratorium on all future City ordinances until all existing ordinances can be reviewed, and those that benefit only a few, repealed.

  4. I agree with most of the points from “No Knee Jerk” (except that I wish he/she had used their real name). Interestingly, the history of how the building referred to as “Capen House” actually got to be designated a Winter Park historic property seems to involve some interesting twists, including that the then owner pursued historic designation in order to intentionally devalue the property. This can make financial sense in the case where a large estate is involved or a bankruptcy proceeding where one may want to appear to be poorer than they really are. Potentially, bizarre misuse of an unneeded law.

  5. Save Our Homes says:

    I support historic preservation. But the proposed ordinance, if approved, will serve as a catalyst for demolition of historic homes throughout Winter Park on a massive scale never before seen. The reason that Winter Park has such historic buildings in such multitude as it does now, is that Winter Park does not have the same 51% neighborhood vote rule as some other cities do. Owners of historic homes today need not fear extremists on a future government historic board charged by ordinance with the duty to prevent economic development of their homes in Winter Park. But that could change should this ordinance pass.

    As we know from the last election here, it’s relatively easy to get 51% of the people to do something really crazy. It’s much harder to fool 67%. That’s why Winter Park’s existing Historic Preservation ordinance is much stronger than some other cities. If someone has a historic home in Winter Park they are much more likely to bulldoze it, should this ordinance pass, than take the risk that a 51% vote someday by a few neighbors could cause their property to decline or stall in value due to the onerous restrictions imposed on them or any potential buyer.

    Whoever wrote the proposed ordinance might have had the best of intentions. But as someone once said, “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” Please save our historic homes, by voting “No” on this new-fangled ordinance! And leave our strong, existing historic preservation ordinance alone.

  6. Pitt Warner says:

    I thought this morning’s session was very revealing. The process was open for all to see, offer opinions and ask questions…..some of whom I agreed with and others that are very different from my philosophy. There were a couple of speakers who seem to think (and if I misstate your position, I apologize) that the community’s well-being takes precedent over individual property rights and free speech. Their comments generated significant applause. Very surprising. If you are a freedom loving, property rights, free speech type of person, please try and attend tonight’s session at 7 p.m.

    The goal of the Historic Preservation Board should be to make this ordinance friendly, welcoming and non-threatening. 100% voluntary historic districts will accomplish this without neighborhood battles or campaigns.