• Seminole County planning board denies Wekiva Island expansion plans

    By: Jason Kelly , Lauren Seabrook


    SANFORD, Fla. - Seminole County officials on Wednesday evening shot down plans to expand Wekiva Island -- for now.

    The battle has been going on between the island's owners and neighboring residents for more than one year.

    The island's owner had sought the Seminole County's Planning and Zoning Commission's approval to increase the attraction's current capacity of 260 people and to create 24 additional parking spaces.

    The commission's first vote was split, but the expansion plans were denied 3-1 during a second vote, much to the delight of many of those seated in the audience.

    Watch: Proposed changes at Wekiva Island getting pushback from nearby residents

    Almost each person's hand raised when board members asked who in the room opposes the project.

    "We really need to say enough is enough," said Barbara Thornton, the homeowners association president. "If their parking lot is full at 10 a.m., which is what Mr. Towers said, and they have a big, full crowd, I don't understand why they need more."

    County staff members said there could be 2,000 people on the island if parking was added, but the owner's consultant, Michael Towers, disagrees.

    "If we're still looking at 271 vehicles, we're never going to get to 2,000 people," he said.

    Residents said more people on the island could bring more pollution to the Wekiva River, which is protected.

    Since 2012, Wekiva Island has been running a food truck on the property, but the county said it isn't in compliance with code.

    © 2019 Cox Media Group.
    © 2019 Cox Media Group.

    "Unfortunately, if there's one loophole they take advantage of it," Thornton said. "We cannot trust that."

    The island owner would like to create a gallery on the second floor of the attraction's main building, but the Wekiva River Protection Act prohibits new commercial development along the river.

    "They simply want to hang art on the wall and make it an art gallery," Towers said. "It's not a large impact."

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    The commissioner said there are too many holes in the proposed plans.

    "They made the right decision," Thornton said.

    Seminole County commissioners will consider the proposed plans later this month.

    © 2019 Cox Media Group.
    © 2019 Cox Media Group.

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