Good decision in Orlando

Published 10:18 pm Thursday, February 27, 2020

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Every so often, elected and appointed officials in Suffolk will blatantly ignore the recommendations of city planning staff — but sometimes, that’s a good thing.

The reason? City planners are under pressure to go strictly by the book when they recommend approval or denial of a project. That’s what they were doing recently when they recommended denial of a relatively small development in the Orlando area of the city.

Ephraim Goodman, who grew up in the Orlando area south of downtown, proposes to bring 23 new single-family homes to the neighborhood, along with a retail space, gas station and convenience store.

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In their denial, city planners noted that the proposed residential density of the project is 4.9 units per acre, well below the Comprehensive Plan’s recommended 13 to 24 units per acre in the Central Growth Area’s Core Support Use District.

But council members and planning commissioners were able to look at the full picture and saw the kinds of things you can’t find in the Comprehensive Plan: a community in need of re-investment, residents in need of a store closer to their homes and support for the project from the neighborhood church — the very active, involved and community-minded Greater First Baptist Church Orlando — and other residents and institutions.

Had this project proposed a lot more homes or a density higher than the range recommended in the Comprehensive Plan, we and others very likely would have felt differently. But perhaps in this case, it’s best to start with a lower density and see what happens from there.

The price of the homes is proposed to range from $175,000 to $195,000. While we would like to see the homes be a bit more affordable, overall we feel this is a good project and a good decision by City Council.