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West Winter Park residents say new development is pushing Black community out

WINTER PARK, Fla. — Residents of west Winter Park are fighting to take their neighborhood back after finding out a developer could change the trajectory of the place they call home.

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On Wednesday, commissioners held a public hearing to discuss plans to amend the plan for future land use designation from institutional to a medium density residential area.

“It has to be some satisfaction between the residents and the city. Black, white, it doesn’t matter. They have to stop coming in here and gobbling up our heritage,” said Shelia Reid, a Winter Park resident.

The city plans to move forward with a two-story, 53-unit multi-family project on nearly 5 acres of land along West Swoope and Webster avenues.

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Residents tell Eyewitness News they are going unheard and feel the project will destroy the west-side’s equality and affordability.

The Patmos Chapel Seventh Day Adventist Church has sat on the property since 1978 and would be torn down if approved.

In 2019, it was sold to Metro Winter Park LLC. The site has been zoned R-3 since 1971 but has an Institutional future land use designation based upon the previous church sanctuary use.

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“With this at-large voting system, we will continue to see this overdevelopment. We will be able to see women like Mrs. Reid and others feel uncomfortable in their communities,” said Barbara Chandler, west wide Winter Park resident.

Reid said officials should work on current problems on the west side, like flooding. They feel the new property would bring traffic congestion, hurt stormwater retention, and cause problems for parking.

“They don’t care. If you’re not rich, then you can not be in Winter Park, period. We don’t care about the history. That’s the attitude I’m getting from our officials,” said Reid.

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The City Commission tabled the Conditional Use request as it is reviewing plans and considering the concerns expressed Wednesday night regarding parking, traffic, and stormwater retention before making a decision.

The next commission meeting is set for Wednesday, Nov. 8.

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