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West Orange Times & Observer Wednesday, Mar. 21, 2018 7 months ago

Local developer sues 
City of Winter Garden

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George Laman, owner of GIL Inc., filed a lawsuit against the city for not meeting contractual obligations regarding landscaping requirements.
by: Eric Gutierrez Staff Writer

A local developer has filed a lawsuit against the City of Winter Garden alleging that the city has not met its contractual obligations regarding landscaping and sidewalk requirements along the south side of East Plant Street. 

GIL Inc., at 1150 E. Plant St., filed the lawsuit against the city on Thursday, March 15.

In December 2008, the city and GIL Inc. owner George Douglas Laman entered into a contract. According to the contract, the city would purchase land from Laman and his business in order to widen East Plant Street. The contract states that the city would “construct sidewalks and install landscaping pursuant to the city of Winter Garden code standards … and within the Plant Street right-of-way.” The lawsuit alleges the city never installed the required landscaping, according to a press release from Laman.

“This contract started in 2008,” Laman said. “They started widening the road in 2013. They finished widening the road in 2014. Then, they started trying to figure out how to do this (landscaping). It was supposed to be completed during the (street) widening process.”

Laman added he understood landscaping is typically the last thing completed when a road is widened but accuses the city of delaying the process. 

“I was very patient,” Laman said. “They kept pushing it off and (would) tell me in meetings, ‘we’re working on it, we’re working on it. We’re going to do it.’”

In September 2017, the city passed an ordinance establishing “streetscape” requirements along East Plant Street, which were the first specific landscape designs for East Plant. In December 2017, Laman verified that the city is “not working on landscape plans as required in the contract.”

“They want this area to develop nicely, but in my opinion, they want it to develop nicely on somebody else’s dollar, not on their dollar,” Laman said, adding that the city also owns property along East Plant. “They’re not even improving their own property.”

Although Laman’s attorney told him that he’d been damaged by the city’s delay in coming up with landscaping plans, Laman does not want to sue for monetary damages.

“I’m very disappointed it’s come this far,” Laman said. “I don’t want the city to give me money for them not doing what (they’re supposed to). … I’m not asking for damages. I just simply want them to fulfill their contractual obligations.”

Winter Garden City Attorney Kurt Ardaman shared his thoughts on Laman’s lawsuit.

“We don’t think it (the lawsuit) has any merit,” Ardaman said. “But, we will aggressively defend the city.”

Eric Gutierrez is a staff writer with the West Orange Times & Observer and Windermere Observer. He graduated from the University of Central Florida in 2015 with a dual degree in Journalism and Political Science. Got a story idea? Contact Eric at...

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