Wednesday, May 31, 2023
HomeNewsControversial storage facility clears rezoning vote 

Controversial storage facility clears rezoning vote 

Subscribe to our newsletter!
          Get free local news sent to your inbox every Thursday morning.                                                                         
Sign me up!

A controversial proposed rezoning of land to pave the way for a three-story storage facility passed its first county vote to become a reality for nearby Winter Springs residents along Tuskawilla Road Wednesday night. 

While describing himself as a developer and chiding the Winter Springs City Commission as “dictatorial, obstructionist and arrogant,” Seminole County Planning and Zoning Commissioner Richard Jerman led the vote that placed a potential 107,000-square-foot storage facility one voting body away from approval. 

Jerman referred to objections from the city as “a lot of sour grapes” while saying he “would never” develop a project within the city, referring to it as “impossible,” during a meeting in which it was mentioned multiple times that Winter Springs had just unanimously approved an aesthetic review for an Ace Hardware development about a hundred yards north. 

The storage facility project was being voted on to rezone the 4.81 acre lot from agricultural and industrial to planned development, specifically for a storage facility. Located on Tuskawilla Road, just south of Michael Blake Boulevard, the lot is surrounded by Winter Springs city limits, but is within a small enclave of Seminole County, giving the county jurisdiction to decide the land’s development. 

During the meeting Winter Springs residents and city officials attempted to counter the arguments of attorney Brent Spain, representing the property owner, as he argued that the proposed storage facility was consistent with Seminole County’s comprehensive plan. 

“My folks could go out there and put out a contractor storage yard on Tuskawilla Road,” Spain said, arguing that the storage facility was more appropriate. 

In the same presentation county staff, which had recommended the rezoning, mentioned that there could be a threat to endangered species in building on the site, as the property has been untouched since 2007. 

Speaking against the proposal, resident Dexter Glasgow said “this is about community, for me.” 

“No matter how they try to redesign it or phrase how it’s going to look, it just does not belong there,” Glasgow said. “There was a veiled threat in there, how they could use it as a storage yard for construction equipment … that alone tells you where their mind is on this.” 

“We have just as much property rights as the owner of that land,” nearby resident Joel Trouse said. 

Winter Springs Mayor Kevin McCann argued that Florida state statutes barred the development from occurring without tying into city utilities. 

“This argument is dead on arrival,” McCann said. “The state statutes are clear.”

Seminole County’s senior assistant attorney Desmond Morrell disagreed with McCann’s interpretation of the statute, but said that the state seemed against enclaves such as the one that the P&Z board would vote to allow to develop in the middle of a city that was rendered powerless to stop it. 

“The planned development process,” Winter Springs City Attorney Anthony Garganese said, “is a completely discretionary process giving the county significant leeway.”

As arguments and questions neared a close, P&Z chairwoman Carissa Lawhun said, “I’ve never seen anything like this.” 

“It just seems like there’s something more going on,” she said. “I don’t know how I feel about voting on this tonight. Maybe they need to go back and see what Winter Springs is willing to work out.”

Moments later Jerman proposed the board approve the rezoning, which passed with one dissenting vote from board member Mike Lorenz. 

The proposed project moves next to the Seminole County Commission, which is expected to vote on the proposal on May 23. 

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story referred to the vote as unanimous. P&Z board member Mike Lorenz voted against the rezoning.


- Advertisment -

Most Popular

%d bloggers like this: