'Sense of place' in jeopardy

Full story: Orlando Sentinel
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Auent Imogene

Orlando, FL

#1 May 6, 2007
A great article, and so fitting to the challenges we face today even in downtown Orlando. We're seeing "lot - chopping", 2 story mega houses crammed 2 to 3 to a lot next door to 1 story bungaloes and cottages built in the 20-s and 30's that stick out like a sore thumb while our so called Historic Preservation Board here sees nothing wrong with them, yet they will attack a homeowner who wanted to put up a perfectly lovely white picket fence because it wasn't made of wood. What nonsense. They fight siding tooth and nail but they'll permit these huge out of scale, out of period, out of style and era "castles" to be built. Take just a look at the ones on E. Amelia at Summerlin, and even go down farther east on Amelia to see more that stick out like a sore thumb. Nobody says they aren't nice homes, and care has been given to the landscaping and fencing etc.-- lots of money thrown here, but they aren't in keeping with the original aim of the designation of the neighborhood as a historical preservation district. We are instead of preserving anything, establishing a whole new order and style of high occupancy and little or no yard or separation.
MZig

Winter Park, FL

#2 May 6, 2007
Working for a local County government, I sit in on meeting after meeting where these money-driven developers in league with our elected commissioners (or is it the other way around?) perpetuate the myth that growth is inevitable. It is only inevitable if we remain silent and allow it to happen. They operate on the old adage, "if you build it, they will come". I wonder if the converse is true, "if you stop building, they will go elsewhere"? Get involved in your local and county governments!!!

Since: Mar 07

Windermere, FL

#3 May 6, 2007
Thanks for a great editorial. I came to know of Florida through Kinning's & Hurston's writings, and there was a strong sense of place and people then. After I came here 20 years ago, I'd use the WPA Guide to Florida and take long day trips following the trips described then. I've watched that Florida be paved over and homogonized beyond recognition. The once beautiful Brevard Co coast is becoming an immitation of Ft Lauderdale, Orlando has become more garsish and congested by the minute. Colonialtown, College Park & winter park are becoming the targets of the deveopment elite as well, as Anut Imogene describes, zero lot line monstrosities, with zero architectural value. The lots in my own neighborhood are quite large, but now that the first ones are being subdivided and permitted for the zero lot liners, it's going to be a matter of time before it gets as bad as Downtown & Baldwin Park. What has been allowed to happen to Edgewater Drive is nothing short of criminal, soon it will be an out of scale canyon.

I moved here for Florida, not some greed barons idea of it. I live near Baldwin Park, the New Urbanist wet dream, sometimes I shop there. I never see people out walking, although the barbers at the nouveau barbershop were sitting out on the benches, the workers from Publix and wait-staff from restaurants as well as the landscapers were the only people outside.

To parphrase from another author, Henry Miller, we have become "The Air Conditioned Nightmare".

Now, I'll drive through Parramore, Pine HIlls, Eatonville, and see people outside, neighbors talking, older people walking to a grocery store. People might say "ooh the only people outside are using or buying or selling drugs". Not always true, yes there's a lot of problems; lack of education leading to lack of job skills being the biggest of all, but there is a sense of place and people and of families that have lived there for generations.

I'm going to go and sit outside in the greatest "room" of the house, the spot under the live oak... with the scent of gardenias & confederate Jasmine are mingling with the smell of newly fallen rain...while I still can.

And MZig, you are right, go to the meetings, even just one, you'll learn more than you thought you would about who and how things really get done....and "staff recomendations" have very little to do with what happens. Just look in the paper at the rezoning applications, or what's happening now that the Comprehensive Plan for Orange County is being tinkered with...that's where you will see & be probably discouraged, but try it out. See youze at the "refurbishment/arena/art center triumverate" information meeting at City Hall tomorrow...

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