A proposal for a new two-story building at Glen Haven Memorial Park won’t be considered by Winter Park city commissioners just yet.
City staff delayed the item until the City Commission’s May 13 meeting in the wake of an ongoing traffic study by the applicant.
“Staff should have the time to evaluate that,” Winter Park Director of Planning and Community Development Bronce Stephenson said. “I just don’t like getting in the habit of providing new information the public hasn’t seen at the dais.”
“It was staff’s decision to push it forward, because it’s really not fair to the community when there’s something that’s a big deal like this,” he said. “When we’re getting the information at the same time the commission is, we haven’t had a chance to evaluate that. We want the commission’s job to be as easy as possible by having the complete information.”
That traffic study may address some issues many residents have raised regarding a potential influx of traffic from the proposed project.
The new two-story, 9,000-square-foot building planned for the cemetery property at 2300 Temple Drive would be for business offices and facilities for visitation and funeral services. An existing one-story office building would be removed to make way for the new facility, and several parking spaces would be re-striped to make way for a new 57-space parking lot south of the building.
It’s a proposal that had nearby residents concerned at the April 2 Planning and Zoning Board meeting. They said more cars coming through their neighborhood would hurt property values.
Resident Aaron Stearns said he and his family bought their home specifically because it sits near the quiet cemetery and has limited thru-traffic. He also noted the funeral home likely will serve clients with loved ones being buried outside of Glen Haven, as well.
Meanwhile, resident Jason Johnson said the cemetery sits on land zoned as parks and recreation and — despite being the site of commercial activity with the selling of cemetery plots — shouldn’t allow a commercial operation like the one being proposed.
“I’m not anti-development; I recognize that development is inevitable and believe it’s even important for our city,” he said. “But development needs to be done within the bounds of both the code and the comp plan. The application is an improper attempt to backdoor a rezoning of Glen Haven as commercial property. The application violates the policies of the comp plan and — despite city staff’s comments — the application fails the requirements of city code for approval of a conditional use under at least three subsections. … Regardless of whether Glen Haven likes it, its property is parks and recreation land. Full stop.”
Attorney James Johnston, representing the cemetery, said the addition of a building for visitation and funeral services wouldn’t have significant traffic impacts and that providing all the services at one location would decrease the number of funeral processions that come onto the property. Johnson noted cremation and embalming services will not be provided at the new building and that the cemetery also has seen a drop in interments — from 450 five years ago to 386 in 2018.
The Planning and Zoning Board deemed the request within code and approved the project by a 4-1 vote.
COOPER AND WEAVER SWORN IN
The City Commission also welcomed a familiar face and also the city’s newest commissioner to the dais.
Both returning City Commissioner Carolyn Cooper and newly elected City Commissioner Todd Weaver took their oaths of office prior to the meeting.
The ceremony marked the start of Cooper’s fourth and final term as a city commissioner because of term limits.
“I am very thrilled to be here for three more years,” Cooper said. “What’s important is we move forward with respect and kindness — and we will find resolutions to our challenges that come from our success.”
Weaver was sworn in after defeating incumbent Pete Weldon earlier this month in the election for Seat Four. Weaver captured 3,207 votes (52.33%), compared to Weldon’s 2,922 votes (47.67%), according to results from the Orange County Supervisor of Elections.
“Thank all of you for the last year of helping with the campaign,” Weaver said. “I love the results, and I hope you do, too.”