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Retirement funds, affordable housing, roads discussed by Oviedo planning board

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One Oviedo planning board member raised concerns that reducing the density of the quiet areas in the city’s 25-year plan will hurt seniors’ retirement funds.

Oviedo’s Local Planning Agency Board is reviewing the city’s Comprehensive Plan update. The state of Florida mandates that all local municipalities update this plan every 10 years to show that they’ve planned for state-approved population projections over the next 25 years. Oviedo’s projections estimate that anywhere from 48,000 to 60,000 people will live in Oviedo by 2045. About 40,000 live there now.

For the last two years, the city has been working on this update to show where those new residents should live and how they’ll get services such as education, water and sewer, and police and fire protection. It must also account for environmental protections and financial sustainability. The plan must be approved by the LPA, then the Oviedo City Council and finally, the state.

Residents can weigh in on the update by contacting LPA or Oviedo City Council members, or attending one of the upcoming meetings.

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

Oviedo’s LPA has met twice now on the Comprehensive Plan update, discussing possible changes and clarifications to some of the plan’s categories. Some of the categories that were discussed on March 24 include retirement, affordable housing and bonuses for developers.

Growth and retirement

During its March 7 meeting, the LPA discussed downgrading the area northeast of Oviedo’s historic downtown from the proposed downtown transition land use designation, which allows a maximum of 40 housing units per acre and 1 floor-to-area ratio (FAR) for office and commercial (which means that the plan takes up the entire buildable lot), to low-density residential.

LPA Board Member Steven Rich said that he wondered if the board has heard from the people who live in the areas that they are talking about changing and what they would like.

“Everybody wants to get the most value they can for their money, seniors in particular,” Rich said. “ I’m a senior, I don’t believe anybody else is in this room and oftentimes, your property value is the voice component of your retirement income.”

He said that the downtown transition designation might add more value to the properties and that folks might depend on that money for their retirement.

“…I’m concerned that we are sitting here playing with people’s property rights without even addressing having to get their input,” Rich said.

LPA Vice-Chairman David Pollack said that he was proposing for the zoning of the northeastern area of Oviedo that hugs Central Avenue to stay as the current office zoning. He lives in the area and has spoken with people who live there.

Debra Pierre, the city’s planning manager, asked the board for consensus on whether or not this area should be designated downtown transition in the Comprehensive Plan.

“I thought this was a particularly interesting geographic area for a transition zone, so we’re not just going from the fence of a single-family home to an apartment building,” Pollack said. “Especially homes that have been built since the 1970s that I don’t think anybody envisioned that would be backing up to it.”

Rich said he is advocating for people’s property rights because seniors deserve to have the option to make the most money they can so they can have their homes to rely on for their livelihood if they have a medical situation or if they want to retire elsewhere.

“Your neighbors that are living here now may be against it but are their kids gonna live there? We are talking future, not today, right? And that’s what concerns me,” he said.

With Rich as the lone dissenter, the board decided to keep the area zoned as office.

Affordable housing and bonuses

LPA board member Matias Maggio asked how affordable housing can be included into the city’s plan.

“For me, the point is that this needs to be part of this plan because if we are saying that the city has to ensure also that there are houses that are rentals for less than $2,000 a month, we need to do something in that direction and I don’t feel like here we are discussing that,” he said.

Pierre said that they have added in their land use map where affordable housing should be located, but they cannot force developers to build it.

“What we’re doing is what’s in the policies so that’s how we are ensuring it by making sure that land use is available on the future land use map,” Pierre said. “We’re not requiring developers to come in and say you’re building 50 units, two of which need to be affordable.”

In order to incentivize developers to do things the city would like them to do, such as include affordable housing, green practices and open space into their plans, the city offers building bonuses. For instance, developers can add more units per acre if they include these things than they’d get if they didn’t include those things. Bonuses are subject to negotiation with city staff and no developer has ever applied for them.

LPA Board Member Bruce Kavenagh said that they need to make sure they have consistent bonuses for everybody because it would not be fair to give more bonuses to one developer than the other.

Pollack also said that he did not want people to think that some developments, like schools, were more important than others.

“Schools are kids right so if you give a bonus for more schools that means there’s more residential, which means there’ll be more residential to put in those schools,” he said.

City Attorney David Hall said they are trying to make the bonuses part of the Comprehensive Plan flexible so they do not have a definite bonus or a definite density bonus because the list might change in the future, and those bonuses will change depending on the development, so they are trying to give the flexibility so it will adapt with the future.

The LPA board agreed on the bonuses but to make sure it is flexible they requested to add a policy for the developers to go to Oviedo’s Land Development Code for further instructions.

Final hearing postponed

At the LPA’s March 29 meeting, the traffic information associated with the Comprehensive Plan update that staff was expected to present was not ready. Staff asked to move that presentation to the LPA’s public hearing, which was scheduled for Tuesday, April 5.

During that hearing, the LPA was expected to vote on whether to approve the Comp Plan update, which would send the Comp Plan to the City Council for consideration. Some board members expressed frustration with adding the traffic presentation to the hearing.

“We’re feeling pressured to vote on something without giving it enough due diligence on our part to review the documentation,” LPA Chairman Darrel Lopez said.

“We really need more time. The traffic situation is very important, not only to us on the board but to the entire stakeholders of Oviedo. And to rush through it in one night and vote on the entire Comprehensive Plan in one night, I won’t do it. I will vote against it completely.”

Staff said the Council agreed to the existing schedule to consider the update, which is why they were urging the LPA to stay within the planned schedule.

Pollack asked how they would recommend changes to the traffic portion of the presentation if they are supposed to turn around and vote on the whole proposed update that same night.

The LPA agreed to scheduling another work session on April 7 and to schedule its public hearing on April 12. The City Council is expected to have its public hearing on April 18, where they’re expected to decide whether to submit the plan update to the state. The Council’s final adoption of the update is expected sometime in July.

During the April 7 meeting, the LPA is expected to discuss possible remedies to roads that are near capacity or even failing (one failing roads that was identified during the March 29 meeting was Mitchell Hammock Road).

Get caught up on what the LPA discussed at it’s first work session meeting concerning the Comprehensive Plan update.

Megan Stokes contributed to this article.

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