On December 14 commissioners, McMacken, Cooper, and Seidel voted to make the 50%+1 neighborhood voting threshold to form a historic district the law in Winter Park. Mayor Leary and Commissioner Sprinkel objected to the law and voted no. All members of the commission acknowledged, either directly or through their silence, that the law has nothing to do with history and everything to do with controlling residential redevelopment.
I addressed the commission prior to the final vote as follows (click image to view video) (text of my comments below):
I rise again to object to this law.
Historic preservation is good. This historic district language in this law is bad.
I want to echo the words of the owner of a 1920’s home on Old England Avenue whose reaction to the historic district law is simply, “Please, just leave us alone.”
Government is here to serve the citizens, not the other way around.
Over 75% if those writing to the commission regarding the change in the neighborhood voting threshold to form a historic district, urged you to keep the threshold as a super majority.
Let me summarize the law before you once more:
You are approving a law pertaining to historic districts:
— That applies to every property in Winter Park in perpetuity.
— That enables 50.1% or more of property owners in every neighborhood, of every zoning class and across zoning classes, to compel 49.9% or less of property owners to forfeit their privacy and their property rights, except under legal process at great personal expense and risk of failure.
— That compels all property owners within a legally formed historic district to seek approval of all exterior improvements from an un-elected board with arbitrary authority and no objective standards, subject only to city commission appeal and then appeal through the judicial system at great personal expense and risk of failure.
— That authorizes an un-elected board to seek out and make determinations of properties that “contribute” to the “historic significance” of a district, without any objective criteria and without the permission or even notification of the property owner.
The argument in support of this 50%+1 approach is based only on a general sense that doing this would preserve the character and heritage of Winter Park. This is false on its face as the current character and heritage of Winter Park, that we all love and enjoy, was created through the independent vision and effort of each of us who have chosen to live here, not through laws such as this, imposed to restrict that very independence and effort.
The consequences of this law are negative for Winter Park. It will pit neighbor against neighbor without justification or tangible benefit.
This law attempts to legislate a personal value system, and to impose that value system on those who disagree. In doing so, the law evidences intolerance, exclusion, arrogance, and a desire to control the behavior of others for the sake of being controlling.
There is room for every value system in Winter Park, provided that value system respects the legitimate interests of others. This law does not even approach this standard.
As concerning, this law demeans authentic historic preservation and the very meaning of history in its pursuit of control.
I urge you to reject this law as it pertains to historic districts.
Regards, Pete Weldon