A series of ordinances regarding the continued discussion of a property next to Crown Pointe Equestrian were postponed at the applicant’s request at the Winter Garden City Commission meeting Thursday, April 27.
According to city officials, the applicant requested to postpone the item because the attorney for the neighboring property owner raised a concern about a mistake on the cover page of the agenda item.
The city said the discussion will be readvertised to the public and is targeted to be held at the City Commission meeting Thursday, May 25.
A passionate discussion from residents and the applicant in March already spurred the commission to move the annexation and development conversation to April.
The ordinances were then postponed after the applicant requested a continuance at the Thursday, April 13, meeting.
The applicant is requesting to annex the 30.24-acre parcel on Tilden Road into the city, as well as amend the future land use and rezone the property to Planned Unit Development. The approval would mean the development of a 24-home neighborhood.
Two members of the public chose to speak on the series of ordinances.
Robert Visser said he would prefer for the ordinances to disappear completely and there is noise, traffic and congestion that creates unsafe conditions in the area.
“We do not wish to see — none of my neighbors and nobody I know of in that area — wishes to see any further residential development,” he said. “We would urge you with urgency to go ahead and vote no on that measure.”
Julie Visser said when her family moved to the Emerald Ridge neighborhood 15 years ago, the Tilden Road corridor was quiet, charming and unique.
“Fast-forward to today, and Tilden Road has now become a sad, textbook case of urban sprawl,” she said. “It’s loud, congested, it’s over capacity already, and most importantly, it’s unsafe for the people and the animals that live along this road.”
Julie Visser said the commission needs to understand it is only a matter of time before a tragic incident happens along the road.
“If you vote yes on this proposal, you are showing us that you do not care about representing every citizen in Winter Garden — even those (who) don’t live downtown,” she said. “The only reason to annex and rezone is for increased tax revenue. Our area of town is more than tax dollars; we are more than dollar signs. The well-being of the citizens, animals and environment along Tilden Road is more important than an increase in revenue that won’t even be used to improve any of the conditions we are currently dealing with. I can say for most of the people we’ve spoken with, we will be heartbroken if you vote yes on this proposal.”
The City Commission approved the first reading of an ordinance granting Duke Energy an electric utility rights-of-way utilization franchise.
Marc Hutchinson, senior business analyst, explained the new agreement would run for 10 years and replace the current 30-year agreement which expired in December.
“(The ordinance) essentially grants Duke Energy the … continued permission and authorization to use and occupy the right-of-way for the intentional purposes of operating, maintaining and distributing electric services to citizens of Winter Garden,” he said.
The franchise fee will remain at 6%, which is what is listed in the current agreement.
Commissioner Ron Mueller said the city had some “less-than-spectacular service during the storm.”
“We also saw some areas where we expected redundant power systems to be in place, and we found out that not only were those redundant systems not in place, but to do so would have been a herculean effort that would have taken several more days beyond the time it would have taken to repair the current system,” he said. “There’s some things in there that I would like to … go back and continue to have those discussions and say, ‘How can we improve the quality of service — especially during a critical time with the storms? What can we do to navigate burying power lines as we go forward and general other service level agreements?’”
Mayor John Rees said he hopes there will be a better working relationship with Duke going forward.
“We’ve had an open dialogue with Duke Energy,” City Manager Jon C. Williams said. “We put concerns on the table; they address concerns. So from my perspective, the level of customer service has improved 10-fold.”