Lake Eola Heights Historic Neighborhood Association

Lot chopping again!

Posted in: Lake Eola Heights Historic
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  • burlesc
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The following is a letter I sent today to our City Council. If you too feel saddened and maddened by the chopping up of our district, please write to them!

Orlando City Council
400 South Orange Ave.
Orlando, FL 32802

Dear Mayor and Council Members;
As a resident of Lake Eola Heights, I am distraught over the way we as citizens are left completely out of the zoning process. Here?’s my story.
Last summer I learned that the property next door to me (603 East Concord Street) was sold to a developer and that he intended to have the lot divided into three 50 by 100 foot lots. I began watching the Municipal Planning Board meeting agendas for an indication of when this was to be reviewed for a plat change. It appeared on their calendar for the November 21, 2006 meeting. I hand-delivered a letter to Jennifer Moreau on Friday, November 17, 2006 indicating that I was vehemently against this and wanted to speak against it at the meeting on Tuesday. I scheduled a half day off of work so I could attend the meeting. She called on Monday November 20 and said that the developer, Lazarus, had not completed his paperwork timely and so had been withdrawn from the agenda but that I would not be allowed to speak at the meeting anyway!
I have been watching their calendar ever since expecting to see this on their agenda again, but it never did. I called this week to find out the status (as he went to the Historic Preservation Board with designs last week) and was told to my dismay that you approved it on February 5, 2007. There was no notice posted on the property, no notice mailed to residents in the area and no inclusion of the residents in a rezoning that is opposed by a vast majority of residents in Lake Eola Heights!
We love our district. We love the feeling of ?“Old Florida?” you get when you walk its tree-lined, brick streets. We love all the variety of residents and the people old and young. We believe the best way to keep the historic district historic is to retain that feel. Replacing 2 small duplexes with three McMansions and three garage apartments onto a piece of 100 by 150 foot property is NOT in keeping with this district.
This lot should not have been divided into anything smaller than two 50 by 150 foot lots. It is one of the most beautiful lots in the district with towering oak trees ?– only 3 of 5 were listed to be saved ?– and in his first design to the Historic Preservation Board that is all that he is proposing to save. Two lots would also be in keeping with the other lots along the north side of Concord Street all of which are between 140 and 200 feet deep.
This is yet another scar on the landscape of the historic district. We understand that infill is inevitable, but it should not be to the detriment of the district. Please, we were made a Nationally Registered Historic District because of our Architecture, Community Planning and Development, please don?’t destroy that.


Mrs. Carolyn Burleson-Webb
611 E. Concord Street
Orlando, FL 32803

Reply from city - what to do!

Following is a reply I received from the city regarding my concerns of the lots in our district being chopped up.
So for this and all future redevelopments, your participation in the work f the Historic Preservation Board is essential! Regarding this redevelopment, there were 4 neighbors who attended the meeting and we were able to convince the Board to not allow any variances or egresses into set-backs. The next meeting is March 7 at 4:00 in city hall. Hope you can join us!

Ms Webb:

My understanding of the situation follows...

I truly understand your dismay, but the issue is that this is not a rezoning; the current zoning of the property (R-2B/T/HP) allows the dimensions of 50 feet wide by 100 feet in depth ''by-right'' in this zoning district (in fact, those are the required dimensions in this zoning district - a dimension already in place by your neighbor at 615 Cathcart Avenue). Thus, there is no rezoning issue here. Plats and subdivisions that meet the requirements of the zoning districts are ministerial decisions (ie., they meet existing code requirements), and are not subject to Municipal Planning Board public hearings and noticing requirements (such as a rezoning of property, which is a discretionary decision). Only the applicant is allowed to appeal a ministerial decision, which then goes to the Municipal Planning Board. In other words, the City didn't change the development rules of this property. If the City denied the subdivision request, we'd could be liable for a ''Burt-Harris Act'' claim by the applicant (i.e, we cannot take away development rights that are already enjoyed by the existing zoning of the property), since the plat/subdivision meets the technical requirements of the code.

However, that should not preclude you from taking an interest in the redevelopment of the site - the appropriate avenue would be to influence the Historic Preservation Board's decisions on the appropriateness of the design; they would not have a say on the subdivision of the property since it meets the existing zoning - which dimensions are reflected by several others in the HP District. However, I think that staff did require that the tree (especially the one on the corner) be maintained and not destoryed - a tree removal permit would need to be secured from the City arborist for the other ones being removed. The review by the Historic Preservation Board will have to ensure that the design does not take away from the district.

Jason Burton, AICP - Chief Planner
City of Orlando - City Planning Division
Will the new houses be in scale?

Granted, the property owner has a right to tear the duplex down because it is not considered a historic building, that's just they way the law is.

Granted, the property owner has a right to split lots that are legal size, that's just the way the law is.

As for style, the developer can build something modern if they wish, that is the federal guidelines and probably the city's as well--not to discourage a progression of style.

BUT, in a historic district the codes say changes must be compatible to existing *historic* conditions.

Are there *historic* lots in the district that are the same/similar dimensions? Are they on the same block? (Some historic codes say changes must be compatible in the same block).

Try and find a list of lot sizes, usually the county property appraiser has something on line. If none can be demonstrated you may have a case against the change; if there are then the developer is in compliance.

Now, if there ARE similar sized blocks that have *historic* houses and are in the district, are the proposed houses compatible with the scale and massing on a similar small lots? If you found the property appraiser's site with the lot sizes, it should also include the square footage and the date built of the house.

What is the predominant historic pattern of construction, ie. what is the established character of development on the small lots?

It is incumbant on the developer to demonstrate that there are existing examples AND they must be in the same district and historic.

If you can demonstrate to the contrary of their position, you can claim that the project is NOT compatible with the scale and massing of or character of the devlopment pattern of other comparible examples in your area and does not meet the requirements of your district's ordinance.

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