Officials vote against plans to build gas station near Winter Park neighborhood

Proposal heads to Board of County Commissioners for final vote in June


WINTER PARK, Fla. – After some residents of Winter Park fought against a gas station being built on one of the city's last pieces of undeveloped land, officials recommended denying the plan Thursday during a meeting, Orange County officials said.

Members of the Orange County Planning and Zoning Board unanimously voted against the plan, which would allow a RaceTrac gas station to be built on South Semoran Boulevard near the intersection of Hanging Moss Road, a spokeswoman with the county said. County staff members were also in opposition of the plan.

RaceTrac submitted the plans to develop the business on the piece of land adjacent to the Winter Pines Golf Club and the Golfside neighborhood in February, which sparked concern among residents for various reasons.

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William Estes lives near the proposed spot and is one of several neighbors who argued against the development.

"We're worried about the lighting in our background, and we're worried about the traffic there," he said.

He wasn't the only resident hoping officials would deny the plan. Some had other concerns.

"I suspect we're going to have more of a water problem here than we already do," neighbor Thomas Yost said. "Drainage has been an ongoing issue and I suspect it's going to get a lot worse."

One of the biggest concerns for the general manager at Winter Pines Golf Club is not just the lights or the noise that would come from a gas station right off the eighth fairway; it's that golfers could easily hop the fence to go to the gas station and bring unwanted items back onto the course.

That's why the neighbors, the golf course and even the mayor of Winter Park formally asked the city to oppose the project. The ultimate decision belongs to Orange County since the land is right next to Winter Park.

A representative with RaceTrac released the following statement to address the concerns of residents:

"RaceTrac is committed to bringing our new store prototype to the best areas and locations, including Semoran Boulevard.
We are continuing to work with local residents and legislators to ensure the new store meets the needs and desires of the local community.
This includes the use of ‘dark sky compliant’ lighting, which will prevent light from spilling beyond the RaceTrac property lines. The new development will also feature additional vegetation and buffer walls designed to reduce the current noise generated from Semoran Boulevard.
We look forward to creating 20 new jobs for local residents and providing the area with high-quality fuel, products and service at a value."

A spokeswoman for Orange County said Friday that although staff members and member of the Planning and Zoning Commission all voted against the plan, their opinions are only considered to be recommendations.

The proposal will head to the Orange County Board of County Commissioners June 5 for a final decision to be made.

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