The West Market project on West Colonial Drive is bringing a new bank with a drive-thru to Winter Garden.
City leaders — with Commissioner Mark Maciel recusing — approved an ordinance Thursday, June 25, that will add the bank with drive-thru to the list of approved uses for the project. The bank is yet to be named.
The applicant originally requested a Planned Community Development amendment for the 18.25-acre property — located at 14180 through 14234 W. Colonial Drive — to allow for both the bank and an automotive service center as approved uses.
However, during the June 11 City Commission meeting, commissioners decided to exclude the automotive service center portion from the request due to community pushback. They voted unanimously — with Maciel recusing — to approve only a portion of the proposed ordinance.
“The proposed amendment hasn’t changed since our last meeting, and they are only now requesting to move forward with one bank that will have a drive-thru,” Community Development Director Steve Pash said during the June 25 meeting. “The automotive service center has asked if we can coordinate a community meeting with the member from the public who was opposed to it as well as the neighborhood and maybe come back in the future with a second amendment.”
Commissioner Colin Sharman said he would be open to hearing the automotive service center’s request at a later date if the applicant is able to garner public support.
Land was cleared for the West Market project in mid-2018. At the time, the project was set to include two large retail buildings on the south side of the property, as well as four outparcel buildings along West Colonial Drive. Upon completion, it will consist of retail, restaurant, office space and a grocer. According to city documents, plans call for at least seven lots of varying sizes. Currently, a 2,612-square-foot DQ Grill & Chill restaurant with a drive-thru is under construction at the site.
City Manager Mike Bollhoefer also provided commissioners and staff with updates on the city’s COVID-19 and police policies.
Because of a recent uptick in COVID-19 cases statewide, Bollhoefer said, staff will be making some changes to ensure everyone’s safety. Bollhoefer said no city employees have tested positive for the coronavirus as of press time, but new policies are in place out of an abundance of caution.
“Any employees who are having contact with the general public or contractors will have to wear masks,” he said. “We’re going to have social distancing and several new rules internally. … We’re taking all those steps to be careful as we move forward to ensure that we continue operations.”
The city also is actively taking a look at its police policies and working with other local law-enforcement, many of whom are evaluating and working toward implementing a more uniform use-of-force policy.
Bollhoefer said the Winter Garden Police Department does not use chokeholds, but the city is working on implementing some new use-of-force policies such as the duty to intervene.
“We’re going to put that in as an immediate order,” Bollhoefer said. “If the officers see other officers using excessive force … those officers will have a duty to intervene. And any time we have a use of force now going forward, they will have to file a report.”
The city is looking at such policies as bigger-picture items, and this is an opportunity for Winter Garden to become better, Bollhoefer added. Although the Winter Garden Police Department hasn’t had any significant issues as have been experienced elsewhere, he said, the nationwide issue has sparked a desire to do better.
“For instance, we’re going to be working with different resident groups, working with people, having meetings to determine ways we can get better, have a better police force and include that input in how we can make changes,” Bollhoefer said. “Everybody keeps talking about this, but everyone keeps failing to leave the police involved in these meetings. … We want to include the police in those meetings, too, and have their input because they’re going to have to move forward and implement these. They need to be part of the equation.”