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Oviedo wants residents’ input on growth before it locks in rules for next decade

The City of Oviedo is gearing up to decide where the state-projected 20,000 additional residents who will call Oviedo home over the next 25 years should live.

The Comprehensive Plan, updated every decade, takes population projections from the state and lays out an intention for future development and land use so the city can ensure those residents, plus current residents, have ample places to reside, eat, find entertainment and get educated. It plans for how people will get city services such as water, sewer and police and fire protection. It also considers roads, environmental protections and financial sustainability.

“It’s very data driven,” Oviedo City Manager Bryan Cobb said.

This spring will be residents’ last chance to weigh in on where they’d like to see growth occur. There will be a series of public meetings by the Oviedo City Council and the Oviedo Local Planning Agency – the two boards that will provide the final stamps of approval on the updated Comprehensive Plan before it’s sent to the state for approval. The two boards met on Monday night to discuss the upcoming Comprehensive Plan meetings.

“Because it’s the Comprehensive Plan, it decides the things where if (the proposed project) doesn’t comply we can say no and not get sued and dig in our heels,” Oviedo Mayor Megan Sladek said. “This is the public’s chance to come and say, ‘Don’t change that’. I’ve told that to a bajillion people.”

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Here’s the way development decisions work in Oviedo: if a developer comes to the City Council with a project that meets all of the codes in the Comprehensive Plan, the Council cannot deny it simply because they or their constituents do not like the project. If they do, there could be legal ramifications. But if residents’ priorities are built into the plan, then there’s flexibility.

The proposed plan

While flexibility is possible, the plan still must account for the 20,000 population increase the state is projecting by 2045, which would require about 6,000 additional dwelling units.

If all vacant land parcels in the city are developed at the maximum density permitted by today’s Comprehensive Plan there will be anywhere between 3,100 to 4,250 dwelling units, which would mean a 1,750 to 2,900 shortfall. The updated plan would have to account for that.

“Some of this stuff looks scary. It’s really dense,” Oviedo Deputy Mayor Bob Pollack said . “But we need that density and intensity to be able to maintain ourselves financially as well as to allow for the growth that we have to put into our Comp Plan to meet the state requirements.”

The most noticeable change in the proposed Comprehensive Plan update is a shifting of the density from the suburban areas to the city’s downtown core, which includes Oviedo on the Park, the historic downtown and the Oviedo Mall area. That means that high-density projects – those that include multi-family housing such as apartments, townhomes and commercial space such as shops, restaurants and offices – will be largely relegated to these areas.

Both the community and Oviedo City Council chose this scenario map last year, showing where the highest density building should take place in Oviedo over the next 25 years. Photo courtesy of the City of Oviedo.

“The general population of Oviedo does not understand that that section of our city is designed for urban. It’s not like the rest of Oviedo. … We as a city need to do a better job of projecting what the city’s plans are for these areas,” LPA Chairman Darrell Lopez said. “Even my own son, I try to explain it to him, he goes, ‘Why do we keep building all these apartments?”

Consultant Urban3 LLC told the city last year that Oviedo’s revenues reflect a $15 million annual budget shortfall based on the amount of money it would take to maintain its current infrastructure (roads, water, sewer). Possible solutions include raising taxes and adding more density to create a larger tax base.

The Urban3 report showed that multi-family housing generated double the tax revenue per acre as commercial and single homes; that Oviedo on the Park produced the most property tax revenue compared to other areas in the city; and that denser development led to lower infrastructure costs per person.

There will be a meeting at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 23 at Crosslife Church with the Urban3 consultants for residents to learn about these recommendations and offer feedback. Get more information

The city hosted four virtual visioning sessions that invited public input in early 2021. Only about 15-20 residents attended each of those sessions. That input, combined with city data, formed a plan draft that will first be workshopped by the Local Planning Agency board and the Council and then approved by each board. Once approved, it will go to the state for a first approval then back to Council for a second approval and then back to the state for a final approval.

It’s not just the Comprehensive Plan that will be updated this spring, it’s also the Land Development Code, which provides the rules and regulations for development in the city, and the Mobility Plan, which is a prioritized project list that is expected to include roadway connectivity, an autonomous vehicle transit system and sidewalks and trails.

Here’s a schedule for upcoming public meetings on the Comprehensive Plan. 

The schedule of the meetings concerning the planning and approval of the city’s updated Comprehensive Plan. Chart courtesy of the City of Oviedo.

During the hearings, there will be a time for the public to give input. Residents can also contact elected officials ahead of these meetings to provide feedback. This is an opportunity to have a say before the rules are locked into place for the next 10 years.

Contact information for Local Planning Agency board members. Chart courtesy of the City of Oviedo.

Watch the Council and LPA board’s full discussion during Monday’s meeting

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