Winter Park voters OK charter amendments that change development decisions

Amendments require supermajority votes in city commission

A packed Winter Park Commission meeting in 2020 as the city considers a new Orange Avenue overlay plan. The plan was passed on a 3-2 vote. (Copyright 2022 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

WINTER PARK, Fla. – Voters in Winter Park Tuesday approved a series of charter amendments that change the way the city decides on development plans going forward.

In addition to two city commission seats up for election, voters decided on six amendments. Five of them require a supermajority of commissioners (four of five votes) to approve the following:

  • Selling city property
  • Rezoning parks and public lands
  • Amending residential and lakefront property maps
  • Increasing the density or residential units per acre, or the intensity of the floor area ratio for developments
  • Approving development in wetlands

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The sixth amendment requires an additional public meeting for ordinances under certain circumstances.

All of the amendments won by more than 50% of the vote. The results are available on the Orange County Supervisor of Elections website.

About 31% of the registered voters in Winter Park turned out to vote.

The changes will mean certain developments can not be passed on a 3-2 majority, which has become an issue in recent years.

For instance, a 2020 plan for an Orange Avenue overlay was passed on a 3-2 vote. Critics said the plan opened the door to larger developments along Orange Avenue, while trying to deal with traffic safety in the area.

The decision sparked lawsuits and commissioners had to rework the plan.

Development is a constant battle in Winter Park, as residents battle between growth and trying to keep the character of the city. Other development projects have also led to contentious fights, including a proposed luxury hotel on Lake Killarney which was pulled, and a new Winter Park Library and Events Center, which opened last year.

These charter amendments make policies permanent that have existed before in Winter Park. Commissioners passed an ordinance in 2014 that abolished super-majority votes. If these amendments pass, they will only be able to get rid of them with a voter-approved repeal.

Here are the full amendments:

  • Require Supermajority Vote to Sell City Property: Shall Sections 2.08 and 2.11 of the Winter Park City Charter be amended to require at least four of five members of the city commission to vote in favor to approve the conveyance of fee simple title of city owned property?
    • Yes
    • No
  • Require Supermajority Vote to Rezone Parks and Public Lands: Shall Sections 2.08 and 2.11 of the Winter Park City Charter be amended to require at least four of five members of the city commission to vote in favor to (i) approve a comprehensive plan future land use map amendment or rezoning of city-owned park land; and (ii) approve a comprehensive plan future land use map amendment, rezoning or change of use of land currently zoned public and quasi-public district or zoned parks and recreation district?
    • Yes
    • No
  • Require Supermajority Vote for Residential and Lakefront Property Map Amendments: Shall Sections 2.08 and 2.11 of the Winter Park City Charter be amended to require at least four of five members of the city commission to vote in favor of a comprehensive plan future land use map amendment or rezoning (i) from a residential category to a non-residential category, or (ii) to lakefront property from a residential use to a commercial use, mixed-use, medium density residential use or high density residential use?
    • Yes
    • No
  • Require Supermajority Vote for Density/Intensity Increases: Shall Sections 2.08 and 2.11 of the Winter Park City Charter be amended to require at least four of five members of the city commission to vote in favor of approval of a comprehensive plan amendment, land development code amendment or rezoning that increases the maximum allowed residential units per acre (density) or floor area ratio (intensity) by more than twenty-five percent from the existing maximum allowed density or intensity of use?
    • Yes
    • No
  • Require Supermajority Vote to Approve Development in Wetlands: Shall Sections 2.08 and 2.11 of the Winter Park City Charter be amended to require at least four of five members of the city commission to vote in favor of development orders authorizing development within wetlands?
    • Yes
    • No
  • Ordinance Changes During Adoption Process: Shall Section 2.11 of the Winter Park City Charter be amended to require an additional public meeting and reading of a proposed ordinance before its adoption if during the adoption process either (i) a substantive or material change is made, or (ii) a change is made to a proposed zoning or comprehensive plan amendment ordinance resulting in an increase in the maximum allowed density or intensity of uses or a change to the permitted uses?
    • Yes
    • No

About the Author:

Christie joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021.