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West Orange Times & Observer Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017 11 months ago

Ocoee leaders approve limits to fast-food, auto shops, storage facilities

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The city modified a section regarding prohibited uses in its land development code pertaining to overlay areas.
by: Gabby Baquero News Editor

OCOEE – With a vision to transform its downtown and cooperate with Winter Garden on the State Road 429 corridor, Ocoee has moved forward on adopting language to address the types of businesses it hopes to limit in its overlay areas.

The newly proposed language was brought forward to the City Commission for a second reading during the Dec. 5 meeting and passed unanimously.

According to Ocoee City Planner Mike Rumer, the idea behind the ordinance is to ensure future development in its three overlay districts — downtown, State Road 429 and its CRA target area — fits the character of the area and reduces the footprint of fast-food restaurants with drive-thrus, automobile service stores and self-storage facilities.

“The ordinance deals with self-storage facilities in our overlay (districts), so the CRA, the State Road 429 and our downtown overlay,” Rumer said. “So what we’re doing is better defining self-storage facilities, and we’re going to allow it as an integrated element of a mixed-use development. It limits its impact to just 30% of the property. So for instance, the newer facility we have on Colonial Drive by the 429, which has a little retail office that makes up about only 5% of the building would not be allowed in our overlay now, because it’s got to be no more than 30% of the development.”

The ordinance, Rumer added, also singles out fast-food restaurants with drive-thrus. Although there is a Popeye’s establishment in the city’s CRA overlay that was accepted before a now-expired moratorium was passed, moving forward, the city hopes to discourage developers from building large strip malls filled with fast-food restaurants by limiting the locations of drive-thru restaurants.

Also included in the ordinance is a provision that would permit automotive service stations but simultaneously reduce their footprint by limiting each station to only three bays. The reason for that is to ensure there isn’t an automotive emphasis in their S.R. 429 and downtown areas, Rumer said. 

None of the new provisions will apply to non-overlay areas.

“In other places, such as Clarke Road, Wurst Road, Silver Star Road, fast food is just under the old code, so they will not be impacted,” he said. “This will just be in those overlay facilities.”

Next on the list to be discussed are discount retail stores,  Rumer said. Presently, there is no provision on dollar stores in the ordinance, but city staff did not want to delay the adoption of the ordinance, because the moratorium on building permits has since expired, Rumer said.

He said city staff does not aim to completely prohibit discount stores, but they do need to discuss the matter further. Once a consensus is reached, Rumer will bring the proposed provision back as another ordinance amending the land development code for the commission’s consideration.

IN OTHER NEWS

  • The City Commission unanimously voted to schedule a commission meeting for Dec. 19 and cancel the commission meeting previously scheduled for Jan. 2, 2018.
  • Ocoee High’s varsity cheerleading team qualified for a national competition for the first time in the school’s 12-year history, and it is currently fundraising $6,600 to go. Commissioners agreed to sponsor the team with $1,000.
  • According to city documents, the existing traffic cameras for the signals located at the intersections of Bluford Avenue and Story Road, as well as Clarke and White roads, need to be replaced. The mast arm pole located on the northwest corner of Blackwood Avenue and Old Winter Garden Road is also in need of replacement after being hit by a vehicle. Upon the Public Works Department’s request, the commission authorized the expenditure of $109,322 to replace the equipment.
  • Ocoee Mayor Rusty Johnson was commended by the Florida League of Cities for his dedication to Ocoee, displayed by his 30 years of service in municipal leadership. 
  • The Ocoee Lions Club announced it received $600 in donations for the annual Holiday Toys for Kids in Need community program. Every year, the program, hosted by the Ocoee Police Department, donates toys to about 500 families.
  • The commission authorized the acceptance of the COPS Hiring Recovery Grant to fund the hiring of three police officer positions. The federal grant, which is awarded over a period of three years amounts to $375,000. The city will be required to match the grant with $315,883.

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