Proposed Winter Park ordinance would place expiration date on final plats |

Proposed Winter Park ordinance would place expiration date on final plats

The Town of Winter Park is considering an ordinance to prevent developers from sitting on a proposed development after getting the town’s official approval of a final plat.

The proposed ordinance on “Unrecorded Final Plats” was presented to the Town Council at its Tuesday, Oct. 7, meeting by Drew Nelson, who is the town’s planning director and interim town manager.

Nelson argued that an ordinance is needed because “some developments have not moved forward” since getting the go-ahead from the town for their final plats.

The proposed ordinance would deal with developments that have received and recorded their final plat, but have not begun “significant land improvement activities” within five years of the “recordation of the approved Final Plat.”

It would also cover those developers who have failed to “record the approved Final Plat and all other applicable documents within 180 days of the date of the Town Council’s approval.”

If approved, the ordinance would require the developer who has failed to record his final plat or begin work on his development after five years to appear before the Town Council to “show good cause why the Town Council should not nullify the approval of the Final Plat.” A developer would then have to reapply and go through the entire plat process again.

Nelson explained that continuing to allow plats to go unrecorded is unfair to neighbors or those who buy property next to a development.

“That person could live in their home for years, and then all of a sudden the property begins to be developed without their knowledge,” he said. “It is our opinion that this does not provide the public, especially those most affected, the opportunity to comment on the orderly development of their community and neighborhood.”

Most buyers of property adjacent to these unrecorded-plat developments would never know about them unless they spoke with the town’s staff, Nelson said. He explained buyers “do not typically do that prior to a purchase.”

Nelson also argued that allowing the lengthy delay of the start of developments “leaves the door open” for a type of development to occur that “does not equate to the wishes of the community.”

In addition, Nelson pointed out the assessed valuation of a property may change, which could result in the town and county failing to “gain the benefit of the increased valuation while the developer can continue to market the approval.”

Under a provision of the proposed ordinance, the Town Council would be able to extend the approval of the Final Plat for another 180 days to allow a developer more time for recording a final plat.

Attending Tuesday’s meeting were three representatives of developments that either had unrecorded plats or had a lengthy delay in the start of construction on their property. They all explained that the recent financial situation in the nation’s lending markets contributed to the delay of their projects and argued that any ordinance had to take that into consideration.

One of the trustees said “leniency” had to be built into any ordinance that was finally approved. Another said he was not elected to “ruin anybody’s life” and would ensure developers experiencing financial problems would be treated fairly.

Nelson told the trustees that he would present the proposed ordinance to the town’s planning commission. After its review, he would bring it back for possible action by the council at its next meeting in two weeks.

In other business, the town council gave its approval to a number of items, including a liquor license for the Back Country Grill, a special events permit for the Business Expo at Winter Park Station, acceptance of a grant for enforcing underage drinking laws and an agreement for snow storage on property owned by two residents.

Approval was given for the contract with JVA Inc. to provide engineering services to the town.

The trustees also said farewell to Patti Garcia, who is ending her four-year service as the town clerk as of Friday. Cat Linenberger, the town’s deputy clerk, is taking over her duties.

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