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West Orange Times & Observer Saturday, Jun. 4, 2022 2 months ago

Winter Garden leaders approve alcohol allowances moratorium

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The ordinance temporarily limits new businesses from selling alcohol in the downtown area.
by: Annabelle Sikes Staff Writer

The Winter Garden City Commission approved an ordinance that will temporarily limit new businesses from selling alcohol in the downtown area at its Thursday, May 26, meeting. 

The ordinance will implement a “temporary moratorium until May 26, 2023, on the acceptance, processing and consideration of applications for development orders, building permits and zoning clearance approvals involving uses or business selling alcoholic beverages within the city of Winter Garden historic downtown district.” 

Existing businesses will not be affected, and the ordinance will allow for a possible extension or early termination of the moratorium. 

Community Development Director Steve Pash said the moratorium will allow staff to go over the codes and city charter to assure everything looks good. 

DELIBERATE DISCUSSION

District 2 Commissioner Ron Mueller immediately expressed opposition to the ordinance.

“The issue that was brought to my attention was that we had some unfortunate incidents in town … it was a series of bad behavior … so when the ordinance was first proposed, it didn’t seem like it fit,” Mueller said. “The more I think about this, the more I’m opposed to this particular piece of legislation. … This doesn’t directly address the issue we have, and that is bars and restaurants that are currently in operation over-serving their guests and allowing them bad behavior.”

Mueller said he would be more in favor of supporting a bill that would oversee the hours of operation for businesses if they do not take more responsibility for their customers’ actions. 

“There is a better direction to this,” he said. “I don’t think this goes far enough to address the folks who are abusing the system right now and will continue to do so.”

District 4 Commissioner Colin Sharman said he believes the city should take a two-prong approach to the issue. 

“We need to get this passed so staff can cut some breathing room so someone else doesn’t sneak in, and then we can look at how we can further crack down on those people that are bad actors,” he said. 

District 3 Commissioner Mark A. Maciel said he has received questions on why the city should stop new businesses from coming in if the changes would be retroactive, while District 1 Commissioner Lisa Bennett said the commission needs to weigh what is fair when determining food revenue. The charter currently states 51% of sales need to come from food and non-alcoholic beverages on site. 

The commissioners also confirmed law enforcement and control issues would be discussed in the revamping of the ordinance.

Although some voiced concerns about new restaurants coming in and possibly being discouraged, Pash said staff currently is not working with any new businesses. If one were to come, the process would still take six to 12 months, he said.

“What do we do with the folks that are abusing the system today?” Mueller asked. “Will they be continuing on for the next six to 12 months? I really don’t want to have to government business. It’s not my philosophy, but I will if they don’t own up to their responsibilities as a community.”

Two speakers spoke against the ordinance. One said it would stifle investment, and the other said restaurants should be given a chance, referring to the area not as “Mayberry” but as “Bedford Falls” and stating she did believe the behavior issue should be addressed. 

The ordinance passed 4-1, with Mueller dissenting. 

FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH CHILD CARE 

City commissioners unanimously approved an ordinance relating to the development of a child care facility at The First Baptist Church Winter Garden.

The ordinance will rezone 1.38 acres at 72 N. Woodland St., and 81 and 91 N. Main St., on the southeast corner of North Main and East Newell streets, from a residential district to a planned commercial development. 

The 12,738-square-foot child care facility will include associated improvements such as parking and landscaping, and will accommodate a maximum of 154 children, some of whom already attend programs at the church. 

Mueller said he was concerned about parking and traffic in the area. 

Pash said the church does meet the requirements and is off-set with the nearby Foundation Academy dismissal. 

Pash said a community meeting was held to discuss the development where all questions were answered and there were no objections, to which Bennett confirmed, having attended the meeting. 

TEMPORARY FIRE STATION 21

City commissioners approved a recommendation for construction of a temporary Fire Station 21 at a cost not to exceed $125,000, plus $1,440 monthly rent for the building, 4-1, with Mueller dissenting. 

Fleet and Facilities Division Manager Michael Caines said the station is needed to provide fire rescue service to the southwest area of the city. 

Caines explained the city is currently going through a bid process to construct a new station on Marsh Road. However, the construction time is currently estimated at 14 to 18 months. To provide the currently needed service, the temporary facility will be constructed on property currently owned by the city at 902 Avalon Road. The project will utilize a rental modular crew building and the building would be returned after the new station is completed. 

Although discussion was held regarding a different possible location, Caines confirmed the area was the cheapest and easiest location with the least impact. 

IN OTHER NEWS

  • Four new police officers took the Oath of Office: Darren Wills, Sean Lefere, Natalie Downs and Philip Roberts.
  • Three new board members were approved for the Architectural Review and Historic Preservation Board: Damon Brider, Phil Baker and Austin Arthur.
  • Dennis Armstrong was approved as a new member of the Planning and Zoning Board. 
  • City Attorney A. Kurt Ardaman proposed the commission appeal a decision made by Orange County Planning and Zoning relating to PureCycle, located at 851 E. Maple St. The attorney said the business is not using the property as what it had originally proposed. The commission unanimously approved the request. 
  • Commissioners approved the authorization of a joinder and consent for the Stoneybrook West Golf Cart Facilities Lease to be executed by City Manager Jon C. Williams.
  • City Commissioners acknowledged the opening of the new Boyd Street parking lot, which opened Wednesday, May 25 — two weeks ahead of schedule.

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Annabelle Sikes is a staff writer at the West Orange Times & Observer, Southwest Orange Observer and OrangeObserver.com. She graduated in May 2021 from the University of Central Florida with a bachelor's degree in journalism and a minor in sociology.  Her past...

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