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Winter Park / Maitland Observer Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014 3 years ago

Letters to the Editor: How 'historic' is your house?


Orlando's compassionate wunderkind lands a promotion

My lifelong friend (since our Rollins days), Bonnie Manjura, passed away leaving a Central Florida legacy few can match. She was instrumental in putting Orlando on the tourism map internationally (fluent in four languages), successfully lobbied Congress for the Heathrow interchange Jeno needed, founded the Lake Mary-Heathrow Festival of the Arts, founded the Seminole Ornament Society, had a major role in growing dozens of Orlando-area nonprofits etc. etc.

What set Bonnie Doreen Manjura apart was that she got started right out of Rollins in the ’70s, incorporated extreme compassion and empathy into all of her business pursuits and never-ending charity work, and never lost sight of where she'd come from. And she treated everyone with such loving care and compassion that literally thousands of employees, friends, and family members strongly believe that her values are timeless and will love her dearly forever.

Bonnie's parents fled Nazi Germany with nothing but the clothes on their backs, settling in Duluth, the home of the legendary billionaire, Jeno Paulucci. Bonnie would later become Jeno's right-hand-woman in Heathrow, Fla., personally executing many of the critical moves that gave rise to the Heathrow we know today. While Disney was a no-brainer for American tourists, it was a different story for the rest of the world. Bonnie changed all that as the most personable, energetic, and ambitious multi-lingual ambassador to the world that Orlando will ever have. Bonnie Manjura took on the male-dominated business community of the ’70s with an unmatched mix of personality, humor, extreme professionalism, peerless reputation, and driving ambition to succeed. I've seen Bonnie charm the pants off a group of Orlando's boldfaced names with lines that would rival Jay Leno on a good night and Reagan-esque anecdotes at any time. They'd open their wallets for her business ventures and her charities while holding her in the highest esteem ... in between laughs. Before 24/7 entered our vernacular, Bonnie was outworking anyone you've met, EVER. Every time we got together, she exclaimed, "We're bustin' it!"

Bonnie was the sister I never had, and I will greatly miss her dearly. I hope that today's youth will use their judgment to find and emulate the Bonnie Manjuras of their generation. Sadly, there will only be one!

- Will Graves

Rollins '77 '78

How 'historic' is your house?

Is your home 50 years old or older? Is it quaint, charming or architecturally interesting? Did an important person design the home? If you answered yes to two of the three questions, you need to be informed about the property rights debate that will surface at the Winter Park City Commission in January. For the last 6 months, the Historic Preservation Board has followed a directive by City Commissioners to examine our current historic preservation ordinance and propose changes, or not.

The biggest issues are sure to controversial. The first is whether or not homeowners should have to agree to have their home placed on the local historic registry. Currently in Winter Park, all real property, especially homes, are personal and what a homeowner decides to do or not do to it, is their decision. Placement on the historic registry comes with controls.

Would you want to ask an appointed board permission for window replacement or garage door approval? Should this appointed board be able to place a home on the historic registry without an owner's permission?

The second issue is whether or not the ordinance should lower the voting threshold for a neighborhood to call themselves an historic district.

Currently, the ordinance requires a two-thirds majority of neighborhood residents to approve an historic district. That threshold is high, but it protects against a slim majority imposing their views on a significant minority. This two-thirds democratic approach is frowned upon by the consultant hired to provide information for the Historic Preservation Board. He recommends historic districts be created by a board of experts and public hearings, with no citizen voting. He states the two-thirds voting requirement is "the crux of the problem" with our current ordinance and is "quite odd."

Wouldn't you like input in a decision of this magnitude about possibly your largest asset?

The last controversial issue to be decided will be a mandatory four-month delay for a demolition permit that involves a property, even those without the formal historic designation, which merely meets the criteria outlined in the opening sentence. The current ordinance allows 30 days. This delay is proposed to allow time for a full investigation of the property's condition as well as an opportunity for the experts of the Historic Preservation Board to recommend alternatives. A four-month delay may seem reasonable in the abstract, but talk to someone you know who recently built a new home. Time is money and either the seller or buyer is going to pay for this forced delay. If you are the seller, you are going to receive less than full value for your home. If you are the buyer, expect to pay more for every nail, board and shingle.

So, what is the solution? Do you think we should we keep the current ordinance as is? There have been a few good homes lost, but there have been some wonderful new homes built. Not all old homes are great. Not all new homes are ugly. There are more than 230 homes currently on our historic registry, either through individuals voluntarily placing their homes on the list, or from being included in the two historic districts now in place, College Quarter and Virginia Heights East. Some folks in town think it's too low. What do you think?

Get informed and get involved. It's easy to pass ordinances, but it's a lot tougher to rescind one. Talk to an appraiser, a realtor, or an attorney before this is presented to the City Commission. Visit the city's website and read the Historic Preservation Board minutes and reports. Talk to the candidates in the upcoming election. They would love to hear from you!

- Pitt Warner

Winter Park

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