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Winter Park / Maitland Observer Thursday, Feb. 18, 2010 10 years ago

Texting law in works

by: Isaac Babcock Managing Editor

Will texting while driving be banned in Winter Park? The City Commission voted in a Feb. 8 meeting to support a resolution that would implore the state to enact bans, or at least allow local governments to do so.

Talk of texting bans has gained support across the country, where 19 states so far have banned texting while driving.

Lawmakers in Tallahassee have been mulling over similar measures, with some municipalities joining in the call to ban drivers sending messages while behind the wheel.

But the measure didn't pass easily in Winter Park, as two commissioners spoke against regulating text messaging while driving at a local level.

"I don't feel qualified to be an expert on the topic, so I'd prefer to defer to the state and let it come down from the state," Commissioner Phil Anderson said. "I'm not convinced it needs to be regulated."

Although Mayor Ken Bradley and Commissioner Margie Bridges spoke out in favor of the resolution, Anderson and Commissioner Karen Diebel voted against it.

A final "yes" vote from Commissioner Beth Dillaha was the tiebreaker.

Renewable energy in Winter Park's future?

Later in that same meeting Bradley suggested the city look into adding renewable energy sources in their upcoming utility contract.

"I for one want to have the opportunity to use renewable energy sources right now," Bradley said.

He pointed to a project in Gainesville, which purports that it will develop 100 megawatts of electricity via a wood-fired biomass electric generator just outside the city.

Bradley suggested that the city should adopt a more proactive stance on similar technologies.

"The buildings we're building now I know are green oriented, but as far as I know there's no solar or anything in it, and that's something I think we need to address as a Commission," Bradley said. "There's a wide gap between what we know now and where we want to be, and I want to close that gap."

Bridges agreed that the city should at least look into legislative measures to move toward greener energy.

"I'd like to see something be developed in terms of policy in that area," Bridges said.

Economic incentives for businesses could accelerate

Winter Park's economic development director Dori DeBord may have only been in the city for a short time, but she's pushing forward measures that could help accelerate economic development.

She presented parts of an economic incentive package to make it easier for businesses to set up shop within the city, including a successful business facade grant program and micro loan program.

But the Commission seemed to perk up when she mentioned speeding up permitting to help businesses open sooner.

"We need to be looking at expedited permitting processes," DeBord said. "We'll be talking to additional city staff to flush those out a little bit."

Dillaha said it's about time.

"When are we going to start doing this? We've talked about it for a long time, but I just don't see any changes in that regard," Dillaha said.

"Being that I've been here all of 60 days I'm doing my best to get a jump start on this," DeBord said.

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