Development could start popping up along Oakland’s portion of West Colonial Drive as soon as 2016. Town officials have been rewriting the Gateway Corridor Overlay codes, which outline rules pertaining to architecture, landscaping and other visual elements, since holding a visioning session in April 2013.
While the codes were being updated, the town set (and continued several times) a moratorium on development on Colonial, and this ends Dec. 15, so the rewrite must be completed by then. A first reading was set for the Tuesday, Nov. 25, commission meeting at the Town Meeting Hall, and a second reading is scheduled to take place at the Dec. 9 meeting.
A visual presentation outlining the changes and the intent of the code update was given at the Town Commission’s Nov. 18 meeting, and a repeat of this presentation was scheduled for tonight's meeting. The second reading and public hearing is set for Dec. 9.
During the slide show, Town Planner Max Spann said officials looked at eight arterial corridors when coming up with site elements, such as distance from curb to building, structure height and signage. Winter Garden Village at Fowler Groves was used as an example multiple times.
“This is something we’re looking to get to in Oakland,” Spann said.
Over time, when tenants leave buildings that are built for a specific purpose, this leaves empty shells along the corridor that are hard to fill. Oakland wants to see attractive buildings that can be reused by a variety of tenants.
The new Gateway Corridor Overlay rules will not apply to existing buildings; they will apply to vacant pieces of land or buildings that are being majorly renovated.
Tara Salmieri, owner of Planactive Studio, a planning and consulting firm, presented six building types: multi-family house, townhouse/live-work dwellings, commercial mixed use (small and medium) and single-story commercial (small and medium). She said the general design standards are “about balance, façade and rhythm” and not specific building designs such as Cracker or Revival.
Salmieri has worked in conjunction with town staff and the town attorney to develop the new Gateway Corridor Overlay standards.
As part of the rewrite, the powers and duties of the Planning and Zoning Board were modified and an Appearance Review Board was established.
The ARB will have the ability to suggest a certain look for buildings and will have the authority to say, “We want this, not this,” Town Manager Dennis Foltz said.
These architectural guidelines are being established so the town has control over the aesthetics of its main arteries. Town Manager Dennis Foltz said this is even more important because of the Florida’s Turnpike interchange on the west end and the increased exposure it can bring to the town.
“The opportunity to hold people to very high standards is an opportunity the Town Commission has,” Foltz said. “It’s important people know we can set very high standards.”
The commission created the Gateway Corridor Overlay District ordinance in 1999, when the town was in the early stages of development along West Colonial. The original document called for buildings to be constructed in the one-story Florida Cracker style. It was also written when the town had only a septic system and no foreseeable plans to implement a sewer system. Since then, Colonial has been widened to six lanes and the town is actively engaged in a sanitary sewer project that will allow for new development, both residential and commercial to have access to centralized sewer.
In other news
• Commissioners discussed the future of Oakland’s solid-waste collection. The town’s contract with Waste Management ends Jan. 31, 2015. Town officials advertised for bids in August for a seven-year contract, and five companies responded, including Waste Management. The town has 850 solid-waste accounts.
The commission has expressed its disappointment with the level of service the current company provides. A bid price summary revealed Advanced Disposal was the lowest bidder in two of three proposed service options ($173,404 and $171,976) and Waste Management was the lowest in a third option ($169,382). Various options offer one- and two-day collection and manual vs. carted collection.
Public Works Director Mike Parker said he has talked to officials in several municipalities who have a contract with Advanced Disposal and are pleased with the service they receive.
Parker was asked to bring more information back to the table at tonight's Town Commission meeting, Tuesday, Nov. 25. Oakland customers currently pay $17.20 per month for solid-waste collection.
• The commission approved a special exception to allow Rich Thurston of Thurston Auto Sales to include the sale of recreational vehicles in his proposed car dealership at 16123 W. Colonial Drive. The vote was 3-1, with Mayor Kathy Stark opposing the measure.
The 2.8-acre site, at the intersection of Hickman Drive and Colonial just east of Tubb Street, is in the town’s commercial zoning district, where vehicle sales are allowed but RV sales are not. Thurston plans to sell the RVs at the back of the property, near Ryan Court and Tubb.