Subscribe to our newsletter!
Get free local news sent to your inbox every Thursday morning.
Sign me up!
For the second time, a proposed three-story storage facility has cleared a vote that brings it closer to reality for nearby Winter Springs residents, after the Seminole County Commission unanimously approved a controversial rezoning.
That vote came down Tuesday afternoon after more than an hour of testimony from opponents of the proposed facility, trading speaking time with attorney Mark Spain, who represented the developer.
“The county shall ensure the long-term viability of residential neighborhoods, and foster distinct, attractive and safe places to live … by guiding future development … to ensure compatibility with surrounding land uses,” Winter Springs City Attorney Anthony Garganese said at the county meeting, reading words from the Regional Growth Compact, signed by representatives of Brevard, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Polk, Seminole and Volusia counties as part of the Congress of Regional Leaders in 2007.
Support for OCN is provided by
Winter Springs sent a contingent of representatives to the Seminole County Commission meeting Tuesday to try to stop the development, which abuts the Tuskawilla Crossings neighborhood and is bordered on multiple sides by residential areas. Their defense hinged on convincing the County Commission that the storage facility was incompatible with an area bordering homes, a school, and Winter Springs’ retail and restaurant district.
“In addition to the profound size of this facility and the logistics, I’m concerned about the welfare of the neighborhoods’ children,” resident David Plummer said, pointing to two schools that are within a few hundred yards of the proposed storage facility.
Plummer recalled the May 3 county Planning and Zoning Board meeting that saw the rezoning approved: “I saw at least three handfuls of witnesses speak against for various reasons, this facility, and I saw zero witnesses that were uncompensated who were behind the developer’s proposals, yet the [board] had very little deliberations, a few snarky remarks that we just heard and, in a 5-1 vote, it was decided in favor of the developer, without a single person in the community saying ‘this is a great facility for us to have,’” Plummer added.
“I think there’s a bit of a misnomer,” Commission Chairwoman Amy Lockhart said “… that somehow the decisions that our boards make are to be dictated by how many people show up at a board meeting and what they say,” adding that she was interested in “competent, substantial evidence,” to sway her decision.
Commissioner Jay Zembower laid out a timeline of county and city staff communicating about whether to enter into a Joint Planning Agreement to head off issues with development of county land near or within the city. At one point in early 2022, Zembower said, the county received an email from city staff saying the city wasn’t interested in such an agreement.
“Lo and behold, when it looks like something’s going to happen, an email comes, in the end of 2022, ‘Oh, let’s talk about a Joint Planning Agreement,’ after so much water has passed over the dam,” Zembower said. He added that hoped in the future the city would work together with the county on a Joint Planning Agreement.
“We need to learn that two governing entities need to figure out how to work together in order to make our neighbors happy,” Commission Vice Chair Andria Herr said.
The project will now see dimensions and design finalized by the developer before being reviewed by the county, at which point the project will return to the County Commission agenda for a final vote in the future.
“I don’t particularly believe that this would be the best project in that area for the city,” County Commissioner Lee Constantine said. “I hope that they continue to work together with the applicant to decide the future of that. Just because they get the approval here today does not necessarily mean that this project’s going to happen.”