In an approximately 90 minute public hearing at the Board of County Commission, the Commissioners unanimously denied the applicants request to approve a self storage facility at Waterleigh Village. A Liquor Store was also part of the request and was approved by the Commissioners. During discussion, the Commission consulted with counsel to ensure the request could be split, in which counsel advised they can be split since they are separate and distinct users.
At the start of the hearing, an attorney with Shutts & Bowen represented the developer, Four Ways Capital Group, and presented information to the Board. A consultant also spoke on behalf of the applicant with information on why self storage is needed. A representative from Publix also spoke, indicating that the uses are separate, are not interconnected, and are only combined for mere convenience.
During the public comment portion, 11 speakers were present to express opposition to the request. Mayor Jerry Demings also outlined comments his office received, which amounted to 22 emails and a petition with 40 signatures in opposition to the project, but did not receive anything in support. During the public comments, the Mayor warned the audience to follow proper decorum during the meeting and to refrain from any outbursts or applause, either in support or denial.
The final speaker, a partner at Shutts & Bowen, offered rebuttals to the arguments in opposition. He stated that the code does not require any bicycle or walkable use for approval, and that the businesses in the village center need to serve the residents of that neighborhood. He also claimed that it doesn’t matter how many people show up to a hearing and that the opposition has submitted no substantial evidence to deny the request.
During the question and answer segment with Commissioners, Commissioner Mike Scott for District 6 stated that the code states to serve the residents of the immediate neighborhood, but that the residents of the immediate neighborhood don’t want it. He also stated that the Commissioners are there to act on their constitutes behalf. Commissioner Scott then questioned the developer on what would occur if the self storage no longer succeeds and is vacated, in which an attorney objected to the question.
Commissioner Bonilla discussed with counsel regarding the requirements and expressed her opinion that the self storage does not appear consistent with the area, and that it is incompatible with Vision 2050, which outlines the county needs more housing and jobs, neither of which would be provided by self storage. Commissioner Moore expressed concern regarding denial of the request and evidence needed if the Board is sued. After an additional 20 minutes of discussion between the Commissioners and County Staff, the Board went to a vote.
Commissioner Wilson, who represents District 1 which includes Horizon West, made a motion to approve use of a liquor store and deny the use of self storage, as such wouldn’t be consistent with the comprehensive plan and wouldn’t be consistent with the surrounding area. Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, and Commissioners Nicole Wilson, Mayra Uribe. Maribel Gomez Cordero, Emily Bonilla, and Michael “Mike” Scott all voted to approve, with District 2 Commissioner Christine Moore opposing.
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