The horseshoe-shaped neighborhood on North and South Kentucky avenues surrounding Lake Midget has a wide range of homes: contemporary, bungalow style, a home that’s named on the Winter Park Register of Historic Places and a home that’s vacant.
But what about adding a strip of parking for a commercial business?
A zoning change requested by Phil Kean Design during last Monday’s City Commission meeting would have paved the way for the firm to turn a rundown, abandoned home at 947 Kentucky Ave. into a contemporary duplex – plus five to six parking spaces.
That parking would be used by Phil Kean Design, whose office resides just north of the property.
“[City staff and the Planning and Zoning Board] felt that there was really no negative impact on the adjacent neighbors,” said Planning and Community Development Manager Jeff Briggs, adding that Phil Kean Design has done great work redeveloping homes along that street. “There would be a fence screening the view of these spaces and the neighbors would get the redevelopment of 947 as a new single-family home or a duplex.”
But Winter Park residents in the Kentucky Avenue neighborhood pushed back against the request, claiming that rezoning that 20-foot-deep piece of land into a parking lot would open the door for encroaching commercial development.
A petition was signed by 11 residents and turned in to the City Commission, reading “our neighborhood is residential and we prefer to keep it so.”
“The thing that concerns me the most about this with Phil Kean is that it’s not going to end with 20 feet,” resident Shirlee Snodgrass said. “You know it’s not going to end with 20 feet.”
“When you’ve given Phil Kean this right, what are you going to do when John Brown comes in and he wants the same thing. I wish you’d take into consideration that we care about our houses.”
Winter Park resident Keith McClain, who lives next to the abandoned home, said that Phil Kean has had plenty of opportunity for more parking elsewhere. Phil Kean had a lot with adequate parking across the street, but recently sold it instead, he said.
“I don’t see the reason to now rezone a property that’s a house just so he can get parking when he had an opportunity to get parking with commercial property,” McClain said.
The City Commission ultimately voted down the request unanimously.
“I’m not going to support this because, as much as the city and the Phil Kean organization have worked constructively together on a lot of things, this amounts to an accommodation for no reason,” City Commissioner Peter Weldon said.
“We have a bunch of neighbors upset about something where we’re changing the zoning...it’s too much for the circumstances.”
“I’ve got a split vote here from P&Z,” City Commissioner Carolyn Cooper said. “I have requests from neighbors asking us not to do it. I have a comprehensive plan that says that I’m going to protect established neighborhoods from commercial encroachment.”
“As much as I would like to do this for this particular company, I’m going to have to vote no on this.”