The Ocoee City Commission convened in an empty City Hall Tuesday, April 21, for the first time since March 17.
As always, the commission hosted its meeting via the city’s YouTube channel, but because of the coronavirus pandemic, the commissioners and staff could be seen wearing masks while sitting a safe distance from one another.
Most of Tuesday’s discussion involved two subjects: a second reading and public hearing regarding the annexation and rezoning of land meant for the proposed West Orange Medical Center; and discussion on actions the city could take to help those affected by COVID-19.
A continuation from the commission’s last meeting, the proposed professional office complex would consist of three buildings with 14,646 total square feet to be located at 3442 and 3462 Old Winter Garden Road. Overall, the land is 1.21 acres in size.
“It is similar to — just next door — the Citrus Medical Office Park,” Development Services Director Michael Rumer said. “But we are seeing a lot of interest on Old Winter Garden Road for a future medical office, which is nice.”
The subject property is bordered by the city of Ocoee to the north and east and by Orange County to the south and west. Meanwhile, the property also benefits from Ocoee Fire Rescue services via a joint first responder agreement with Orange County and benefits from the city’s water service.
During the public hearing portion, only one question came in electronically, with the question being about the two houses located on the property and if the annexation would force anyone to move or if the houses were abandoned.
“Those houses were sold a long time ago,” Mayor Rusty Johnson said.
“And this is the applicant that owns them, doing this rezoning,” Rumer said.
The commission approved the annexation and rezoning unanimously. Originally, the property was zoned Orange County A-1 (rural/agriculture) before receiving its new rezoning as Planned Unit Development — Commercial.
HELPING THE COMMUNITY
Commissioners — specifically George Oliver — discussed possible plans to help those in the community affected by COVID-19.
A few weeks ago, Oliver spoke with principals from the different schools around Ocoee and noticed one glaring issue.
“One of the things that I found to be pretty consistent throughout each principal is the fact that we have 7,000 students in Ocoee, but no Grab-and-Go meals program,” Oliver said. “We have one elementary school — Spring Lake — where we have all the kids walk to school, and we found that some of the kids just didn’t have transportation to go to the Grab-and-Go sites.”
In response, Oliver said he spoke with the Orange County School Board, which said the district would be setting up Grab-and-Go programs in Ocoee. As of press time, the only Grab-and-Go program is at Ocoee Middle School.
At Spring Lake, Oliver coordinated an event with the principal, where he gave out 100 pizzas to families, which cost around $500 and was put on his city-issued credit card. After asking for the city to pick up the tab, there was hesitation among the commission, but after discussion with City Manager Robert Frank, it was determined that it could be approved by the commission. Ultimately, the $500 was approved in a vote.
“You do have the authority to do that … and maybe it’s time for you to decide if you want to do this with some type of loose policy or something to guide each one of you as far as when this type of thing comes up,” Frank said.