Here’s how the issue of growth is impacting Maitland’s city council race

‘Smart growth:’ 2 candidates vying for one seat running on same platform

MAITLAND, Fla. – Florida’s booming population is having an impact on the race for seat two on the Maitland City Council, with both candidates running on the same platform: “smart growth.”

The candidates: Current Planning and Zoning Commission board member Vance Guthrie and Pastor Justin Brownlee. Both are running to replace Councilwoman Bev Reponen.

“My platform is called ‘Smart Growth’ and that’s what we have to do,” Guthrie said.

[WEIGH IN: News 6 hosts Boomtown discussion on growth in Central Florida]

Guthrie said he was raised in College Park, but has made Maitland his home the last eight years while he’s served on several boards, most recently on the Planning and Zoning Commission. There, he said, he’s heard a lot of the concerns among residents and said going into municipal elections next week, growth is a top priority.

“Number 1. Huge. The biggest of them all,” Guthrie said. “There is a lot of concern about the apartments and the density of the apartments and what comes with those apartments.”

Over the last few years, several big apartment complexes have come in, changing the feel of what was once a small town. He said residents have been expressing concerns with those developments and the traffic that comes along with them, especially near Horatio Avenue and 17-92.

“I’m supporting that we have more restriction on our growth,” Guthrie said. "Growth can be good but you have to do it the right way. You can’t just incentivize for developers, you have to have growth that really brings something to the community.

Within the last year, the City of Maitland changed its city codes, Guthrie said, to make sure if developers build anything over 40 units, they have to go through a planned development and developments agreement.

“Developers are going to have to build things they will have to accomplish, as in open spaces, shared retention or parks, sidewalks. They are going to have to bring something for the community,” Guthrie said."

However, his opponent and pastor of Anchor Church in Maitland, Justin Brownlee, said in speaking with residents, he’s learned many feel a disconnect from government’s decisions, especially when it comes to growth.

“I’m all about smart growth,” Brownlee said. “After speaking to our residents, I want to protect our neighborhoods, protect our community and I want to help to be able to connect the community with a lot of the concerns.”

Brownlee moved into Maitland and started his church within the last three years. He said he has since invested in the community, joining the Maitland Rotary Club, working closely with the parent teacher associations and volunteers as a school coach. However, he said he’s also gone door-to-door speaking to residents who have complaints that Maitland is growing too much.

“It’s not a huge surprise because we do have a lot of developments that have happened within the last two years, so I understand that again, it’s a bedroom community and people are used to things being quieter,” Brownlee said.

Elections for the race will be held next Tuesday.

To read more about the candidates and their platforms of responsible growth, visit their respective websites:

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