WINTER GARDEN — Recent inspections of stormwater pipes in the Brandy Creek development, south of West Plant Street and east of Tildenville School Road, revealed many of the original PVC pipes are in danger of collapsing. City Manager Mike Bollhoefer said the roads in the development are safe for now, but unless the pipes were replaced in the near future, lawns, roads and even homes would be in danger of collapsing.
Therefore, he asked the commission to authorize city staff to expedite the contract process to enable work to begin as soon as possible. The city has repaired individual pipes in various areas of the development, but staff believes the best long-term solution is to replace and upgrade the polyethylene pipes with longer-lasting materials throughout the entire system.
Mayor John Rees moved the repair discussion to the top of the agenda because Brandy Creek residents filled many of the seats in the City Hall Commission Chamber at the start of the meeting.
Commissioner Bob Buchanan underscored the need to act quickly.
“This community can’t wait for studies,” Buchanan said. “We need to do something now.”
Bollhoefer said he expected the upgrade and replacement cost to be $500,000, pending a more thorough study. He proposed Winter Garden pay one-third of the cost and Brandy Creek pay two-thirds of the cost, a formula the city has offered developments in similar situations in the past. In this case, Brandy Creek and the city each will pay one-third up front. Winter Garden will pay the remaining third, and Brandy Creek will pay back that cost over 20 years via a special assessment.
The situation developed so rapidly that Bollhoefer didn’t have any paperwork for commissioners to study. Rather than the normal procedure, which would involve a special assessment, the commission voted 4-1 to allow the staff to proceed quickly because they deemed it to be an emergency situation.
Commissioner Bobby Olszewski dissented and said he understood the vote didn’t involve a special assessment but that the final proposal would.
“I can’t vote for a tax increase; I’m philosophically opposed to a special assessment,” he said.
Bollhoefer said the city also will look at other developments that have stormwater systems similar to Brandy Creek to see whether they need replacing.
The commission unanimously passed the first reading of an ordinance to annex about 23.64 acres on all four sides of the intersection of Marsh and Williams roads, and to rezone the land to city urban village planned unit development.
This designation allows single- and multi-family residential units along with retail stores such as pharmacies and dry cleaners, and professional offices.
The developer will pay the cost of upgrading the intersection, adding turn lanes, and widening the roads where appropriate. City staff and the Planning and Zoning Commission recommended approval of the development and rezoning plan. Community Development Director Ed Williams said recent improvements to Marsh Road, which included adding roundabouts, resulted in the number of cars using the road decreasing from 18,000 to fewer than 10,000 today.
Director Williams said the biggest objection to the rezoning was a fear that the developer could build apartment buildings on the property. However, the current agreement prohibits apartments. Williams also reported that many people opposed a gas station on the property. The agreement allows for a gas station to be built on the northeast or northwest corner, under a special exemption. He said any station would of necessity be small — much smaller than a Wawa, for example. Under a special exemption, any gas station on the property requires a new proposal, review by city staff and the Planning and Zoning Commission, and approval from the City Commission.
Olszewski pointed out that process would allow citizens to continue to oppose a gas station in the future.
The second reading is scheduled for Jan. 8, 2015.
IN OTHER NEWS
• Commissioners unanimously passed the first reading of an ordinance to clarify some language in the ordinance covering removal of illegally parked cars in the city. The changes removed “public garages” as a destination for towed cars and deleted a one-line requirement that cars parked in no parking zones must constitute a “safety hazard” before towing is allowed.
• Commissioners unanimously approved entering into an indemnity agreement regarding lots in Hickory Hammock subdivision on John’s Lake. Community Director Williams said this provided additional protection for the city, because some of the original deeds for this property from the 1800s could not be found.
• Commissioners unanimously approved the final plat for Oakland Park subdivision Phase 2A.
• The commission authorized purchasing a new solid waste front-end-loading truck for $236,835.50 and a new side-loading refuse truck for $235,115.
• Commissioners unanimously approved expediting a contract with Real Estate Research Consultants to study road connections and interchanges in the Winter Garden/Ocoee area. Ocoee received a $100,000 grant from the state to conduct this research. To receive the money, the work must be completed by June 2015. Unless the contract is expedited, the work won’t be completed on time. The purpose of the grant is to study the current interchanges and roads to provide a basis for developing a master growth plan.
• The commission unanimously approved renewing the annual agreement with Quality Vault for opening and closing cemetery services for another year at no price increase.
• Olszewski requested an update on the construction on Ninth Street. Bollhoefer said they put heavier barricades around the construction, because some truckers had removed the old barricades and continued to drive through the neighborhood. He said they might use police overtime to enforce traffic rules there.
“It’s not an easy situation,” Bollhoefer said, “But we’re working to resolve it.”
Bollhoefer also said they would review the use of golf carts in downtown. The number of golf carts driving around downtown is growing, and the drivers don’t always obey traffic laws.
“We’ve noticed this and may move forward with some enforcement,” Bollhoefer said.
• The next commission meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Jan. 8, 2015, in City Hall Commission Chambers, 300 W. Plant St., Winter Garden.