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West Orange Times & Observer Wednesday, May 18, 2022 1 month ago

Ocoee approves amendment regulating campaign signs

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Property owners in Ocoee now have 90 days prior to an election or referendum to place campaign signs on their property and five days, after the date, to take them down.
by: Andrea Mujica Staff Writer

Property owners in Ocoee now have new rules that govern when they can place campaign signs on their property.

The Ocoee City Commission approved the recommended amendment for Article VIII relating to political campaign signs Tuesday, May 3. 

Under the amendment, political campaign signs may be placed on commercial and residential private property no earlier than 90 days prior to an election or referendum.

The amendment also provides an extension for taking down the signs. Before, property owners had 48 hours to remove signs. Now, they have five days after the scheduled election to remove them.

Commissioner George Oliver, who ultimately opposed the amendment, raised concerns regarding First Amendment rights. 

“That’s a slippery slope, because now we are talking about constitutional rights,” he said. “You are talking about private property, citizens rights and regulating what they can say and what they can put on their private property. So now we are coming into an area (where) we are trying to dictate what folks can or cannot do when it comest to the First Amendment and their constitutional rights. … So, I agree with everything here, but when we get into that part, I have to have some reservations about that.”

City attorney Scott Cookson said the amendment does not regulate the kind of messaging but rather just the timing.

“It’s certainly a consideration,” Cookson said of Oliver’s concerns. “Anytime you are dealing with signage and campaign signs, there’s First Amendment issues. Here, those issues relate more to regulating content. We are not regulating content, we are not imposing a regulation that says they can’t have a Democrat put up a sign, only Republicans — that’s regulating content, or the message on the sign. But place, location, size, certainly permissible.”

The amendment comes after commissioners received numerous complaints from citizens about political signs.

“I’ve got so many people telling me they are so tired of seeing the signs in my district,” Commissioner Rosemary Wilsen said. “I can’t count how many, but I get probably blasted with (them) if not every day, every other day while I’m out. … I can’t give you the number, but I can say I’ve got numerous.”

Although Oliver agreed some sort of regulation was necessary to prevent signs from being displayed for a year, ultimately, he dissented.

“We regulate everything on people’s private property,” Mayor Rusty Johnson said. “Anybody wants to do something in their yard, they are going to come and tell us about it, that’s the way it works … Not just here in Ocoee, it’s everywhere.” 

 

REGENCY PROJECT

The commission approved unanimously the preliminary stage plan and developer for The Regency Mixed project, a mixed-use development with about 300 residential multi-family units. 

The property contains three parcels over a total of 16.68 acres. The new construction will be located  on the north side of Florida’s Turnpike and the west side of the Maguire Road and Old Winter Garden Road intersection.

This development is providing an initial extension and the first form of a future block by Old Winter Garden Road. 

The project will have two public roads and an internal drive. The north side of the parcel will consist of two buildings with retail on the bottom floor and apartments above it with associated parking, and the south side will be multi-family apartments by the right of way, creating a mid-town feel for the urban development.

 

SELF-STORAGE FACILITIES

The commission approved the Land Development Code Amendment relating to self-storage facilities.

On Sept. 21, 2021, the commission approved a temporary suspension pertaining to the processing and consideration of applications for development orders and development and building permits regarding self-storage facilities. Currently, the city has 11 such facilities either operating, under development or that have been approved recently. 

The amendment includes the following: further maintaining the current code provisions for the properties that are located within special overlay districts with a C-3 or a I-1 zoning designation, whether self-storage will be permitted only as an accessory use, and the use of self-storage facility to being considered a special exception in C-3 and I-1 zoning districts within the city.

Oliver opposed the motion.

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Andrea Mujica is a staff writer for the West Orange Times & Observer, the Southwest Orange Observer and OrangeObserver.com. She covers sports, news and features. She holds both a bachelor's degree in journalism and an MBA from the University of Central Florida....

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