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Oviedo OK’s spectrum of new business types

Triggered by an application from Orlando food truck park and bar À La Cart, the Oviedo City Council approved a new land use on Sept. 9 called “light industrial,” that will allow a plethora of new business types into the city.

Light industrial will allow the entertainment uses such as bars, concert halls, theaters and video arcades that are already allowed around Oviedo on the Park into other areas of Oviedo, including the historic downtown area—the core of which is the intersection of Broadway Street and Central Avenue—and the plazas near City Hall. According to Oviedo’s development services director, Teresa Correa, the goal is to create a more urban feel to the historic downtown, resembling OOTP.

The City of Oviedo’s map showing where the new entertainment uses are allowed within the city.

À La Cart, which is in the very early stages of the application process with the city, would not be allowed into Oviedo’s historical downtown without the approval of this new land use. The food trucks stationed there are separate businesses, making À La Cart primarily a bar.

Oviedo’s Local Planning Agency Board raised concern with the proximity of the affected zones to residential areas near the historic downtown, particularly with regard to bars. Deputy Mayor Bob Pollack said he’d like to add a special exception for bars and restaurants applying for light industrial zoning near residential property, so that the City Council has the final say.

Correa said having a special exception gives more control but creates obstacles for developers because they’d have to come before City Council.

Emma Reichert, an LPA board member, said the board was split on whether to recommend approval of light industrial to City Council. Reichert’s real estate business building abuts residential properties within the historic downtown.

“There are plenty of other districts in Oviedo that are good for entertainment. Why are we impacting residents negatively because we feel the need to expand entertainment?” she said.

During the City Council meeting, Correa suggested that code enforcement could deal with any issues that may arise. Mayor Megan Sladek said she thought businesses would work hard not to upset potential customers living nearby. The special exception was not included.

“The free market will fix this problem,” Sladek said.

The business side

The light industrial land use also allows micro-manufacturers in arts, crafts, apparel, technology and medicine within both industrial and commercial-zoned areas, which include the Oviedo Mall, Alafaya Woods, Andrew’s Crossing and Twin Rivers. Existing restrictions on nuisances in those areas, including odor, smoke and cinder emissions, would apply to this zoning.

The City of Oviedo’s map of the areas where micro-manufacturers in arts, crafts, apparel, technology and medicine are allowed within the city.

Sladek said she saw light industrial as a remedy for the empty space within the Oviedo Mall.

“I asked around to see what the fastest-growing business is and it’s micro-industrial. I think it will make it easier to rent our empty space and it’ll give us a chance to attract high-paying jobs,” she said, adding that more jobs would cut commuter traffic.

“That’s how you fix traffic, is not having the drive to work,” Sladek said. “Some roads can’t be fixed, so the best we can do is figure out how to get more jobs here.”

Kevin Hipes, the Oviedo Mall development director and an Oviedo mayoral candidate, said the mall is 85 percent occupied, not including the 125,000 square feet of vacant space that used to be the Sears department store anchor. He said the mall would be ideal for light industrial.

“If you ask people on the street if they want industrial at the mall, they’re not going to want that. But high-tech jobs? I think people would say yes to that in a heartbeat,” he said. “You say industrial, they think of steel mills in Pittsburgh. People don’t understand that things have changed quite a bit. This is clean, white-coat, light industrial. That’s very appropriate.”

Oviedo-Winter Springs Regional Chamber of Commerce President Bridget Lake said she thinks the potential boost in culture from this new use would be well received by the community.

“There’s not as much culture here as in Winter Park or Sanford or other places surrounding us,” she said. “Entertainment has become what people are looking for. Let’s keep Oviedoans in Oviedo by providing that work-live-play space.”

At the next meeting

The City Council will meet again on Monday, Sept. 20, when they’ll consider a new tax rate of $5.13 per $1,000 of assessed property value for the city, increased from last year’s rate of $5.12, to balance the $15.6 million city budget.

Under the new proposed rate, a homeowner whose home is officially assessed at $300,000 would pay $1,538 in city taxes.

Tax base increases from things like new residents and commercial projects allow the city to keep the rate around the same without compromising service levels, according to city officials.

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