Proposed industrial zone expansion riles Winter Springs

The location of a former slaughterhouse could be turned into an expanded industrial zone next to two Winter Springs neighborhoods. The proposed change sets the stage for a fight by Winter Springs to stop it from being approved by Seminole County.

“To use an expression from the movie ‘The Godfather,’ I think this is one that the city should, ‘go to the mattresses’ on,” Deputy Mayor Kevin Cannon said. “I think we should ramp-up legally.”

The issue with the property, which sits sandwiched between the Tuskawilla Crossings neighborhood and Tuskawilla Road, is that it’s a small remaining enclave of Seminole County, a disconnected chunk of unincorporated county property that’s surrounded by the city of Winter Springs.

The land in question, in red circle, would see the remaining portion of 4.8 acres changed to M-1 industrial zoning, if approved by the county. To the east is the Tuskawilla Crossings neighborhood. To the west is the Avery Park neighborhood.

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So the Winter Springs City Commission, which governs the territory completely surrounding the 4.8-acre site, doesn’t control the outcome of a pending county rezoning request. City Manager Shawn Boyle said the request, which was submitted to the county on March 23, appears to be an attempt to rezone part of the property from A1 agricultural use to M1 industrial use. Some of the property is already zoned for industrial use.

Winter Springs over the years has annexed properties similar to the one in question when developers needed access to city services, such as water and sewer, Boyle said. The current plot in question is not serviced by Seminole County utilities.

“In this case the applicant is actually proposing a septic system and a well,” Boyle said, in an attempt to avoid having to be annexed into Winter Springs, which could stand to reject the rezoning for the potential project, a self-storage facility.

Photo by Isaac Babcock

“I’m not going to name names on the application but it is my understanding that they want to rezone the back portion of the property so that they could present a self storage project to the county,” Boyle said.

“I oppose this vehemently,” Commissioner Rob Elliott said. “I think a storage facility there is tantamount to an abomination. It would drop property values. It doesn’t fit. I would be almost positive that a well is not going to cut it with the fire department.”

Multiple commissioners, including Elliott, said that they weren’t opposed to allowing self-storage facilities in the city, with one pointing out that there are other areas in the city where one could be built with few issues.

But the property in question could cause, according to Cannon, “staggering adverse economic impacts” if the remaining portion of it was allowed to be rezoned for industrial uses. Those impacts could most directly affect the nearby Avery Park and Tuskawilla Crossings neighborhoods, as well as The Savoy senior living facility, Cannon said.

“I’m just guessing but conservatively I guess that the Avery Park residential community fair market value of that subdivision and the fair market value of Tuskawilla Crossings, which are on both sides of this property, and the fair market value of The Savoy which is just on the north side of this property, is probably in the neighborhood of $400 million, $300-400 million,” Cannon said. “It’s a staggering amount of money.”

“Moving forward I agree completely, we’re not against storage units at all,” Mayor Kevin McCann said. “There are going to be other storage units coming before this Commission, I would say sooner than later. Our problem is changing the zoning to something that later would become another form of industry.”

The rezoning has not yet appeared before a county board for approval, but the Commission voted unanimously Monday night to send City Attorney Anthony Garganese to the county to fight the zoning change.

“We’ll turn over every stone we can think of to present the city Commission’s position,” Garganese said.

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