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Winter Park / Maitland Observer Friday, Mar. 31, 2017 7 months ago

Winter Park City Commission votes down memory care center, denies Aloma Bowl zoning

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Winter Park City Commissioners deemed a proposed memory care facility to be out of scale with the surrounding neighborhood on Monday. They also made a vote on a proposed Orchard Supply Hardware Store that could help save a cherished bowling alley.
by: Tim Freed Associate Editor

Winter Park’s need for memory-care facilities clashed with a group of residents hoping to preserve their neighborhood’s character and charm during the March 27 City Commission meeting. 

What followed was a long debate surrounding a proposed memory care facility proposed for 1298 Howell Branch Road — which was ultimately voted down by the City Commission, citing the project’s incompatible scale. 

Residents in the surrounding neighborhoods asserted that the 24-unit, 51-bed project was simply too big, towering over nearby homes at three stories and 41,352 square feet. 

“We are not opposed to memory care,” Winter Park resident Nancy Freeman said. “We’ve been through aging parents, and we’ve been through dying parents. Our issue is not memory care, it’s that it’s incompatible with the surrounding area. It’s incompatible in size … it’s 10 times larger than the surrounding family homes.” 

But the other side of the issue was the need for that type of project in Winter Park. Maitland resident Amy O’Rourke, founder of Cameron Group Aging Life Care Services, said Winter Park seniors suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease are forced to go elsewhere for memory care. 

“This is a complicated problem, and we have to create room for everybody,” O’Rourke said. “I pick up the phone, and I talk to Winter Park residents, and I have to tell them the bad news that they can’t live in their city. They have to move out of the city to Winter Garden, Winter Springs, Longwood or Altamonte Springs. … When are we going to do some things to accommodate the aging population?” 

Winter Park city commissioners voted down the project, claiming it was incompatible with the surrounding neighborhood.

Aloma Bowl saved … for now 

Winter Park resident’s fighting to save the bowling alley on Aloma Avenue received a glimmer of hope as city commissioners denied a request for a proposed Orchard Supply Hardware Store set to be built on the property. 

The ruling buys time for 16-year-old Winter Park High Schooler Danielle Allison, who has led a charge to protect the bowling alley she’s grown up in her whole life. The high-school sophomore gathered more than 2,900 petition signatures to save Aloma Bowl. 

Allison said Monday’s ruling was exactly what she was seeking. 

“Fingers crossed, because right now it is looking very much in our favor,” Allison said. “My goal is in the next few days to talk to the owner and discuss what they’re going to do moving forward. Hopefully, we can agree on something to make sure that our bowling alley stays.” 

City commissioners voted down the hardware store project because of issues with the project meeting its parking requirements — a shortage of 24 parking spaces. 

Attorney Rebecca Wilson, representing the applicant for the hardware store project, said it would seek to fulfill that requirement by sharing parking at a dentist office nearby on select days. 

But that answer did not satisfy the commission.

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