Members of the public voiced their opinions on several prominent agenda items at the Windermere Town Council meeting Tuesday, Oct. 11.
Two of the main topics of conversation included discussion on the Oakdale and Ninth diverter, as well as the first reading of an ordinance to reduce the pool setback for canal front lots from 50 feet to 35 feet.
Windermere council members heard a brief presentation from Town Manager Robert Smith on the 30-day review of the Oakdale and Ninth diverter.
The council previously passed the temporary traffic-calming program to alleviate traffic concerns along Oakdale Street at their Tuesday, July 12, meeting.
Residents along the road have endured issues with cut-through traffic, speeding, stop sign running and aggressive-driving behaviors for years.
The temporary measure, approved in July, included the use of a diverter with no road closures and authorized flexibility to Smith to implement the program, providing for a re-evaluation period after three and six months, and requiring an ordinance for permanent traffic-calming measures.
Smith said data was collected before and after the diverter was installed, and counts were noted in the peak morning and evening hours to gauge if the diverter had the desired impact of decreasing the number of vehicles using Oakdale.
According to the report, traffic was reduced in the area by 55.91%.
From July 20 through Aug. 18 there were 949 vehicles counted between the hours of 6 to 9 a.m. and 1,403 between the hours of 4 to 7 p.m., totaling 2,352 vehicles.
The monitoring time, which ran from Aug. 19 through Sept. 17, counted 390 vehicles between the hours of 6 to 9 a.m. and 647 between the hours of 4 to 7 p.m., totaling 1,037 vehicles.
Rick and Brandy Haines said the diverter has decreased traffic, but if it is to become a permanent solution, there should be a golf cart opening as well as a way to prevent people from turning around in neighboring driveways such as their own.
“If we make it permanent, my request would be that for those of us that are at the intersection that are taking the brunt of people…there needs to be some sort of accommodation,” Brandy Haines said.
David Sharpe said the traffic diverter has made a huge difference and asked the council authorize staff to finalize the permanent plan while incorporating some of the concerns about turn around and golf cart access.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “It is working 100% down south of it. We feel like we have our neighborhood back. It’s safe. We’re not having confrontations with people cutting through, and it’s a life-changer for us. We’ve made this road safer, and that should outweigh any objection anyone has in my mind.”
The Windermere Police Department is continuing to gather data and will compare the numbers at the 90-day mark, which ends Oct. 16. Results will then be presented to the Town Council Dec. 13.
After several discussions by the Development Review Board and Town Council, the council directed staff to prepare an ordinance to amend the town’s waterfront pool setback requirements for canal-front lots from 50 feet to 35 feet with conditions to protect the waterway and other potential impacts.
Town Council members heard the first reading of the ordinance after the DRB voted 7-0 against it. That board received information from other environment experts, such as the town’s lake consultant, Orange County Environmental Protection Division and Florida Department of Environmental Protection, that supported maintaining the 50-foot setback.
Ashley Walker, spoke in support of the variance.
Walker approached the Town Council in February regarding a proposed variance to allow a reduced setback from the Normal High-Water Line for a swimming pool.
At the time, Walker met with the DRB, which recommended a 5-1 denial of the variance.
Unlike the surrounding areas of Ocoee, Winter Garden and Clermont, which have a setback of 25 feet, the town of Windermere has a 50-foot setback for waterfront lots, although its standard lot setback remains at 25 feet.
According to the town, all structures must be at least 50 feet from the Normal High-Water Line elevation.
Mary Oaks, Dale Walker, Valery and Gary Tucker, and Ben Mase also spoke in support of the variance.
Comments included confusion on the concern with the possibility of pool breaching. Some argued the lakes already are contaminated and Hurricane Ian did not compromise any of the pools.
However, not all residents agreed.
“This whole town is based on the value of those lakes,” DRB member Stephen Withers said. “I just don’t think we need to take that step.”
The Town Council consented to proceed with the first reading with a second reading to take place Monday, Nov. 14.