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Winter Park Residential Zoning History (overview)

The following is a brief history of Winter Park single family residential zoning resulting from my research of the zoning code and discussions with city staff.


  • Residential zoning in Winter Park started in the 1930’s (before that you could build anything).
  • From 1930 to 1985 criteria limiting the size of a home was primarily a 35% footprint, meaning a two story home could have as much as 70% floor area. In today’s terms (Floor Area Ratio) a typical 13,000 square foot lot could have a house with as much as 9,100 square feet. As a practical matter there was no limitation.
  • In 1985 residential zoning was revised, introducing the concept of Floor Area Ratio. and limiting it to about 35% of lot area, varying with the size of the lot (more for smaller lots, less for larger lots).
  • In 2010 residential zoning was refined to require increasing side setbacks as a function of both lot width and whether the intended home was one or two stories. Other adjustments were made in an effort to reduce the impact of larger homes in neighborhoods with a number of smaller homes, for example, increasing side setbacks and requiring side wall articulation to lessen the impact of a new two story home next to an older and smaller one story home. Today, a typical 13,000 square foot lot could have a house with maximum Floor Area of about 4,550 square feet as has been the case since 1985.


The 2010 changes addressed the concerns of citizens not wanting imposing homes in their neighborhood while minimizing negative impacts on property values from more stringent requirements.

Click here for more details of the current single family residential code.

Our zoning history is important context to understand those who desire to allow a majority of neighbors to impose “historic preservation” as a means to limit change, not to preserve history.

Regards, Pete Weldon

Posted in Development, Districts, Policy.

4 Responses

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  1. George Schiele says

    A useful reference.

    Is there anything available in writing about the effort by some interest groups to impose broader definitions of “historical” preservation? Once “preservation” moves beyond the original intent of saving specific structures which are themselves either historically or architecturally significant to the imposition of blocks and zones as a means to impede any and all redevelopment, it becomes just another government power grab at the expense of private property. We do NOT need another “Kelo” for Winter Park.

  2. Pete Weldon says

    See the current draft ordinance. The “district” language is completely arbitrary. If 50% of your neighbors say you are in an “historic district” regardless of any historic attributes your property may or may not have, you must get the approval of the “Historic Preservation Board” for any improvements to your property, which approval may be arbitrarily denied.

  3. Gray Hair says

    Sometimes it’s difficult to grasp what a proposed ordinance is all about.

    Take this one for instance. “Historical Preservation” sounds great. Who could argue with that? But the label that the proposed ordinance supporters are giving it, is deceptive.

    Analogy is the best way to understand what this proposed ordinance is and is not.

    If approved, it gives a majority of any group of residents, anywhere in the city, the ability to impose an additional layer of government red tape for, and possibly rejection of, any and all residents in the group’s requests for renovation or demolition of their homes.

    Example: Eleven residents on a block of 20 homes get together and vote to make their block a “Historic District” over the objection of the other nine residents on the block. All 20 must submit to Historic District government red tape, and face possible rejection of any and all requests to make changes to their property.

    Analogy: It’s like eleven ladies telling the other nine ladies on the block that they all must first have the approval of a government “Hair Style Committee” before making any changes to the way they wear their hair…. and…it makes about as much sense.

  4. Pitt Warner says

    I have studied the list of WP properties that 3 different consultants have ID’d as potential national or local historic sites. This list was compiled in 1986 and revised 2 more times through 2013. Of the 650 properties on the list, 93% of the private homes are still standing. The list can be found at: Look at Section 7 of survey.

    This survey clearly shows demolitions are rare and only used when properties are beyond repair or remodel potential. At a certain point, it makes more sense to tear down. But 93% of single family homeowners over the last 30 years have chosen to maintain their historic home. Isn’t that a victory for preservation? Shouldn’t we be happy? Why do we need Draconian changes to our historic ordinance? It looks to me like it’s working!

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