WINTER GARDEN — Winter Garden city commissioners unanimously approved the first reading of an ordinance to enable the city to eliminate a minimum of two billboard signs for every electronic billboard installed.
City Manager Mike Bollhoefer told the commission some companies already are negotiating with the city to eliminate billboard signs if the city will allow electronic billboards.
The proposed ordinance allows city staff flexibility to negotiate agreements to remove and replace electronic billboards and leaves ultimate approval up to the city commission.
“It is unusual to have an ordinance with that much flexibility,” Community Development Director Ed Williams said.
In this case, the ability to negotiate the specifics should allow city staff to negotiate the best deals for the city, he said.
The ordinance requires a minimum of 1,000 feet between billboards and limits each billboard’s height and the size of its copy area. It creates a legal definition for electronic billboards and sets limits on how bright each sign can be. Although the city’s ordinance doesn’t control billboards in Orange County enclaves, Williams said the city is negotiating with the county to control billboards in those areas with a joint planning agreement. The ordinance will have its second reading May 28.
Jay Barfield, president of Allied Group USA Inc., wants to use one of the boat basins at Newton Park to test a system he devised to clean pollution in Lake Apopka.
Barfield’s company has a contract with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to perform nutrient and sediment reductions in the lake. He approached Winter Garden because the boat basin offers a useful test environment.
“It’s always been a passion of mine to see the lake cleaned up,” Commissioner Kent Makin said.
Makin said Barfield has a record of success cleaning water all over the world. His experiment will not cost Winter Garden anything, and Barfield also will make needed repairs to the boat basin. Bollhoefer said the project should take between three and eight months, leave no visible mess and have no smell.
“We should give it a shot, but we need the ability to correct (any issues) in the contract,” Mayor John Rees said.
The commission voted unanimously for Bollhoefer to execute the contract, provided it included a clause giving the city the ability to stop the project should it cause any problems for the neighborhood, such as a foul odor.
IN OTHER NEWS
• Commissioners heard the first reading of an ordinance to waive road impact fees for developers building in Winter Garden’s historic downtown to encourage developers to provide amenities and structures that meet the city’s goals to create a unified look and ambience in the district. Every waiver will need to come back before the commission for approval. The second reading is scheduled for the June 25 meeting.
• The commission heard the first reading of an ordinance to rezone about two acres on the northeast corner of Daniels and Roper roads from residential to planned commercial development. The developer plans to build 17,250 square feet of office space primarily for medical use. The second reading is scheduled for May 28.
• The commission heard the first reading of ordinances to rezone 44.83 acres on the south side of Marsh Road from City Planned Unit Development (PUD) to C-2 Arterial Commercial District. Williams said 99% of the property is wetlands. Rezoning the two acres of uplands will enable the city to build a fire station and cell tower on the property.
• Commissioners heard the first reading of ordinances to annex and rezone 0.87 acres at 844 E. Crown Point Road. West Orlando Baptist Church purchased this parcel for plans approved at the commission’s last meeting. The second reading is scheduled for May 28.
• The commission heard the first reading of an ordinance to amend regulations governing accessory buildings and structures. These changes would allow Matthew’s Hope to build a greenhouse structure on its property.