James Shockey, Community Development Director

Town of Winter Park

Via email:  jshockey@wpgov.com

Re:  Idlewild LLC Application for Rezoning

Dear Mr. Shockey,

I am writing to urge the Planning Commission to deny the current application of Idlewild LLC for rezoning.  My wife and I own a townhome on Reunion Court. The Town established a thorough Town Plan and Zoning map many years ago.  The restrictions in the Plan are meant to allow controlled development that reflects the beauty of the surroundings. The Plan should be honored today.  

Many people in the Town have relied upon the Plan.  Many residents in Rendezvous have expressed to you their reliance upon the Plan when they purchased their properties.  The public should be able to rely upon the Plan, and the Plan should not be lightly altered or ignored simply to accommodate the economic interest of the owners of the individual parcels.  

The owners of Idlewild LLC and WP Idlewild LLC are sophisticated investors who are well aware of the Plan and its existing zoning restrictions.  Rather than proposing a development to comply with the Plan, they are asking that the specific zoning for their parcel be amended. Their stated reasons for seeking amendments are purely to increase their private economic gain:  They wish to build a bigger hotel and bigger residential units. They claim they need a bigger hotel to attract “major Hotel Operators.” They couch their request by proposing underground parking that would necessitate higher buildings, but simply having underground parking does not require taller structures.  Even one-story structures could have underground parking.

The Town has no reason to amend the zoning for these parcels.  There are no health or safety concerns that require an amendment.  There are no environmental issues that require amending the Plan. There is no public outcry to alter the zoning regulations for this parcel.  There is only the desire of the owners to increase their financial gain. These parcels are special given their location adjoining the river to the west and the steep hillsides to the east and should be protected to the maximum degree, as set forth in the Plan.  

Amending the zoning now – where reasonable development can be done under the existing zoning – would signal to the public that the Town Plan and Zoning map are meaningless and can be changed by any developer wishing to alter the essential character of Winter Park.  

Disregarding the intent of the Plan and the process for proper amendments would place the Commission and the Town Council outside of their sphere of authority.  The Plan that was approved by the citizens of Winter Park should be honored and followed with great care.

Very truly yours,

Robert A. Bassett