A site plan approved by the Winter Garden City Commission last week paves the way for the demolition of one of the city’s landmark businesses.
Commissioners on Thursday, Aug. 12, approved unanimously the proposed redevelopment of the Maryland Fried Chicken site at 13675 West Colonial Drive.
The redevelopment includes demolishing the 55-year-old restaurant to make way for a 1,518-square-foot commercial building. The new facility would house a Floyd’s 99 Barbershop and a possible second tenant. A new parking lot and landscaping also will be added.
The company has 12 locations in Florida: Winter Garden Haines City, Apopka, Plant City, Leesburg, Avon Park, Vero Beach, Pompano Beach, Quincy, Sebring and two in the Orlando area.
“It’s sad to lose an icon like that, but it’s a good thing to have a business like Floyd’s to take its place,” City Manager Mike Bollhoefer said.
“Part of us being a healthy, vibrant community is our ability to embrace that kind of change,” Commissioner Ron Mueller said. “So many towns lose businesses but have nothing to take their place; we are very fortunate that we can be a draw for new businesses.”
Floyd’s 99 Barbershop owner Sarah Sleeth would not comment on the timeline for the demolition of Maryland Fried Chicken and subsequent construction at the site. The owner of Maryland Fried Chicken did not respond to requests for comment by press time Tuesday.
After much discussion, commissioners voted 4-1 to approve Ordinance 21-15, which eliminates term limits for members of the city’s Architectural Review & Historic Preservation Board, Code Enforcement Board and Planning & Zoning Board. Mueller dissented.
The discussion at the Aug. 12 meeting stemmed from the need to have talented board members versus the need for new ideas.
“You still have natural turnover,” Bollhoefer said. “And you still have the right, if someone’s doing a bad job on a board, to take them off. It just gives you the ability, if you have really good people, to have continuity. Because the main reason of these boards is to make good decisions.”
Commissioner Mark Maciel agreed.
“When we have good people, we don’t want (the terms) to expire,” he said. “We need good people join the boards. Sometimes it’s hard to find good people for the boards.”
Maciel added that diversity among members was something that should be encouraged — whether term limits were passed or not.
But diversity is one of the reasons for Mueller’s dissenting vote.
“While I agree we want to have the most talented people for these jobs, we certainly also want to represent diversity,” he said. “And not just racial diversity or gender or orientation but economic backgrounds, as well.”
Although the measure passed, Mueller said he plans to remain a voice on the issue.
“I don’t plan on letting it go; I’d like to survey our community and get a sense of what they want,” he said. “They deserve a say in this, too.”