Letter: Roam annexation agreement not balanced
February 11, 2018
Roam annexation agreement not balanced
I encourage concerned citizens of Winter Park to familiarize themselves with the ROAM Annexation Agreement, review the presentation materials and express their comments or concerns to the Town of Winter Park Mayor and Town Council. We need to have a healthy discussion about this major annexation. The public hearing will continue on March 6, 2018. We need more time to get this right. With an upcoming election, and a new negotiator for the Town, the approval should be after the election.
At the Feb. 6, 2018 meeting it was good to see a healthy number of residents and to hear their thoughtful comments and concerns. From the tone of the comments, I felt the citizens were in favor of the development, however they all expressed deep concerns regarding the development, FDP, and Annexation agreement. It was disappointing that three members of the Winter Park Town Council missed the meeting and the principals from FRDC were also not present to hear the concerns or give testimony. Unfortunately, only the land planner consultant presented the plan and there was little discussion, comment or questions raised by staff or Councilors. We need to hear the thoughts of our Town Council and understand why they are acquiescing to such an awful agreement. I certainly hope that the draft annexation agreement that was made public will be rewritten to address the citizens concerns.
Some of the major items of concern are, the need for more defined open space, river access, and defined costs to the Town. The draft annexation agreement still indicates only 4.2 percent open space, not the 55 to 60 percent implied by Mr. Vogel at the Planning Commission meeting. The river area under this draft still remains private without public access. What a lost opportunity for the developer and Town to be leaders in stream management, preservation, water quality, and sustainable development by keeping the public out rather than partnering with the citizenry in stewardship of the river area. A partnership with the developer and the Citizens of the town would be the right thing to do. Finally, since the costs are not detailed, a pro forma has not been presented, and we have not seen the District Service Plan, this agreement places high risks to the town of Winter Park to cover the costs of the development. Development need to pay its own way.
There are many other provisions in the draft annexation agreement that were brought up by concerned citizens that need to be addressed to the benefit of both the Town and FRDC. I encourage the readers to reach out to their Town Council and express their opinions.
Gary Behlen, Winter Park