Friday, February 27, 2015

Trentwood & McCoy Area Update

As previously reported, two separate development projects were proposed over the past weeks for the property located at 2635 McCoy Road, directly behind and across from homes on the west end of Trentwood Blvd.

Value Place Extended Stay Hotel

To date, the hotel developer has not yet proceeded to requesting a height variance from the Planning and Zoning Board for the planned hotel at 2635 McCoy. According to reports at the last City Council workshop meeting, the developer is now evaluating a different site for their hotel - the old Unified Aircraft Services building located at 1934 McCoy Road.

Billboard Height Increase

Last Tuesday, February 24, the Belle Isle Planning and Zoning Board addressed a height variance request for the billboard located at 2635 McCoy. Trentwood residents can already see light emitting from the present billboard at night, and are concerned about a significant increase in the amount of visible light if the billboard becomes taller.

The Planning and Zoning Board delayed voting on this height variance until they could evaluate the amount of light emitting from the billboard and how this change in height would affect Trentwood residents.

Please stay tuned to the Belle Isle Sun for more information about these issues as they develop.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Stormwater Update at Wednesday Workshop

There will be a City Council workshop meeting this Wednesday, February 25 at 9:00 a.m. The agenda includes a number of stormwater issues in Belle Isle that have come up over the past months.

The Council will discuss a potential interlocal agreement between Orange County and Belle Isle for a Cullen Lake Shore Drive Curb Inlet Basket (CIB) program intended to catch leaves before entering our drainage system. The agenda also includes an update on the present status of the stormwater issues at Delia Beach, Belle Vista and Lake Conway East.

You can view a copy of the agenda linked below:

Workshop Meeting Agenda - February 25, 2015

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Trentwood Can't Catch A Break

Trentwood residents recently received notice of a Belle Isle Planning and Zoning Board meeting this Tuesday, February 24 at 6:30 p.m. The letter informs residents that a height variance has been requested for a nearby billboard located on McCoy Road.

The address of the billboard is 2635 McCoy Road, the same address where developers have discussed building a high rise hotel. Unlike the recent meeting on the hotel variance, this billboard developer has already requested a variance from the Belle Isle Planning and Zoning Board. The requested variance will be discussed for possible approval at the Tuesday P&Z meeting. Any decision by the P&Z Board can be appealed to the City Council. You can read more about the process here.

I sat down with a couple Trentwood residents to discuss their concerns about the requested variance. Although the present billboard height is not provided in the letter, it appears that this variance would increase the present billboard's height by more than 50%. A taller billboard will be more visible to nearby residents, especially when lit at night. Residents also question what benefit a taller billboard could provide to Belle Isle or its residents.

Google map images, as well as residents' personal observations, demonstrate that the present billboard is easily visible from the highway without the need for any variance. You can view a street view image as well as an overhead view of the affected area below.

The Belle Isle Planning and Zoning Board meeting regarding the billboard variance will take place this Tuesday, February 24 at 6:30 p.m. in City Hall. Public comment is permitted.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Aircraft Noise Meeting This Friday [UPDATE]

There will be an Airport Noise Abatement Committee (ANAC) meeting this Friday, February 13 at 9:00 a.m. The purpose of the ANAC program is to monitor and limit the impact of airport noise on the community. At the ANAC website, you can view flight patterns, register for email alerts, and file a noise complaint if needed.

Greater Orlando Aviation Authority Noise Abatement Program

Some may recall that there were recent discussions about possible changes to the airplane noise abatement program that has been in effect for the past 30 years. However, those changes had been tabled as of December 2014.

The Friday meeting is being held due to the number of recent noise complaints from local residents, many from Belle Isle. Orange County District 3 representative Pete Clarke will be speaking to address these noise complaints.

The meeting will begin at 9:00 a.m. this Friday, February 13 in the Carl T. Langford Board Room at the Orlando International Airport. Attire is business casual.

UPDATE 2/11/15:

Confused as to where this meeting is located? Here are some directions once you arrive at the Orlando International Airport:

Park in the Airport parking. Walk to the Airport Security Gates for 70-129 on the 3rd floor. You will see a Starbucks. Walk down the hallway near Starbucks and you will find the Greater Aviation Authority, where the meeting is being held.

Thanks to reader Dina Goodenow for the helpful tip!

Friday, February 6, 2015

The Softer Side of the Sun (Now With Teddy Bears)

As I have mentioned before on the Sun, our Belle Isle Police Department appears to be flourishing under the new direction of Chief Ring. At the recent workshop meeting on January 28, Chief Ring swore in three new BIPD members, Officer Jon Paul Gargano, Officer Justin Lemieux and Deputy Chief Laura Houston.

Not wasting any time, Deputy Chief Houston requested Commissioner Nielsen's assistance in getting the message out about some new ideas at the BIPD. Although Commissioner Nielsen has not done much writing for the Sun lately (articles written by contributing authors are clearly marked with the authors' names), she thought that this would be the perfect forum for getting the BIPD's message  out to additional residents.

In a recent conversation with Chief Ring, he stressed the importance of making connections between BIPD officers and the members of the our community, noting that police officers often meet residents under the worst of conditions. Chief Ring believes that we can improve trust and communication in Belle Isle by putting residents together in less formal and tense social situations.

To this end, you may have heard that the BIPD sponsored a project over the recent holiday season aimed at providing and hanging house decorations for elderly residents who needed assistance. While hanging decorations at the home of one local resident living alone, Community Resource Officer Dawn Nodzon noted how much a teddy bear meant to this woman, one of the dozen or so "adoptive grandparents" that Officer Nodzon checks on daily. This sparked the idea that perhaps children would also be comforted by holding a bear while the BIPD works to resolve the potentially stressful situations that can occur during service calls when children are present.

But for this to happen, the BIPD needs your help. More specifically, they need teddy bears. Here are the details:

  • Bears must be NEW - not gently used
  • Bears must be "huggable-sized" - not too big or too small
  • Bears must be sealed in one gallon zip-lock bags so they can be transported and kept clean by the officers
  • Bears must not be holiday-themed - nobody wants a Christmas bear in July
  • Bears must be bears - not alligators, seals or honey badgers

Drop off teddy bears meeting the above requirements to the Belle Isle Police Department headquarters, located at 1521 Nela Avenue. You can also email Officer Dawn Nodzon for more information at or call the BIPD at 407-240-2473.

Another way to meet and support your local BIPD officers will be the upcoming "Tip-A-Cop" event at Fish On Fire on Thursday, February 26 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Residents can meet and be served by their local BIPD officers, who will fill in for the regular Fish On Fire waiting staff. All tips collected will go to "BIPD Cares." Funds will be utilized to support police initiatives for our community, especially our elderly and youth residents.

The BIPD will also be hosting a golf tournament in the spring or summer of 2015, details to be determined.

So for now, mark your calendars for the afternoon of February 26, and don't forget to drop off your teddy bears. According to Commissioner Nielsen, "we're going to need a steady flow of bears."

Monday, February 2, 2015

Big Money In Little Belle Isle [UPDATE]

It seems we are in for another Belle Isle election cycle with political operator Doug Guetzloe. Mr. Guetzloe has been regularly appearing on community Facebook pages and strongly urging support for Belle Isle City Council candidate Larry Miles.

Many of you probably remember Doug Guetzloe as the author of the attack mailer against City Council candidate Sue Nielsen in last year's election. You can read more about Mr. Guetzloe's involvement in the 2014 Belle Isle election in the articles linked below.

Who is Doug Guetzloe?

Who Is Doug Guetzloe? - Part II

Where Is All This Money Coming From?

Although "Ax the Tax" is a registered Florida PAC, Mr. Guetzloe utilizes a simple strategy to avoid revealing the identity of his donors and details of his expenditures. He repeatedly violates the law by not filing the required financial disclosures, then pays the resultant fines, presumably using excess funds contributed by his donors. Mr. Guetzloe's PAC records can be found by searching for "Ax the Tax" through the below link:

Florida Division of Elections Campaign Document Search

Because Mr. Guetzloe does not file the required income or expenditure reports for his PAC, there is no way to know where his funding comes from or how it is spent. Residents are understandably concerned about the serious impact Mr. Guetzloe's PAC could have in a small town like Belle Isle. Many have already begun seeing signs of Mr. Guetzloe's big money campaign strategies in Belle Isle, with the recent mailers performing voter research and requesting funding for Mr. Miles' campaign, as well as the city-wide robocalls from market research firm GMI.

GMI is the source of the "survey" robocalls made to residents throughout the City over the past week, requesting information regarding which candidate you will support in the upcoming Belle Isle election. The questions in Mr. Miles' recent mailer are even more pointed, and the collected data will allow the candidate's message to be individually tailored to match the political views of each respondent.

True to the form of our last Belle Isle election involving Mr. Guetzloe, his preferred candidate and core supporters are now spreading rumors and innuendo that the Belle Isle Police Department will be defunded and/or destroyed by a vote in the wrong direction on March 10. However, anyone who regularly attends City Council meetings can tell you that the entire Council supports the Belle Isle Police Department. No member has ever proposed a reduction in the BIPD's funding, let alone elimination of the department.

In fact, the original decision to buy property for establishment of the BIPD on November 24, 2008 was authorized by two of our present Commissioners, Lydia Pisano and Harvey Readey. Commissioner Larry Ady was also on the Council at that time, but was absent for the November vote.

I am proud to live in Belle Isle, where elections aren't ruled by big money tactics and rumor mongering, but by residents' careful evaluation of the facts about each candidate. I urge you all to consider each candidate's history, ideas and qualifications and use your independent judgment to decide who will best serve you and our City.

UPDATE 2/3/15:

Correction, the date of the original Council decision to buy property for establishment of the BIPD was November 5, 2008. The decision was authorized by present Commissioners Lydia Pisano, Harvey Readey and Larry Ady.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Tuesday Meeting Reminder & Agenda

Reminder that there is a City Council meeting this Tuesday, February 3 at 6:00 p.m. The agenda is linked below:

City Council Meeting Agenda - February 3, 2015

There are no specific issues mentioned for Council discussion except a confirmation of the canvassing board to review votes in the upcoming March 10 election. There are also three items on the "consent agenda," which contains items expected to be voted upon by Council without discussion of the individual items. Commissioners can always remove items from the consent agenda for discussion by making a corresponding motion.

The consent agenda for this Tuesday's meeting includes approving the January 6 meeting minutes, a temporary waiver of the "no parking" ordinance on Venetian Park for the Ultraman event on February 18-20, and a formal excusing of Commissioner Ady's recent absences due to medical issues. Commissioner Ady is recovering in the same ward as Belle Isle resident Dr. Stuart Bernstein, and I hope you will wish them both a speedy recovery.