Debate over building Casselberry city center - FOX 35 News Orlando

Debate over building Casselberry city center

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The debate is heating up over a plan to build a city center for Casselberry.  Residents spent Tuesday afternoon and night strongly urging city commissioners to move forward with the project, but the fate of the development remains in limbo.

Tuesday afternoon's work session to discuss the Concord Village city center plan turned into a four hour marathon filled with frustration.  Commissioners were bickering over details the city had long since agreed to with developers.

The debate focused on whether or not to move a public works building and whether the city or developers should pay to realign a road.  Plans for two hundred luxury apartments bogged down the debate for hours.

Commissioners Sandra Solomon and Gene Fry voiced strong concerns about the apartments.
Residents pointed out that new apartment residents would spend money in Casselberry and that they will support struggling local businesses.

During public comments, one man spoke against the project.   More than a dozen people urged commissioners to put differences aside and to move forward.

David Keys has lived in Casselberry for twenty years.  He says this project is a no brainer. "It's very obvious to most of the citizens that are supporting this and most of the citizens I talk to are supporting this." What do you say to the commissioners? "That they need to unify together, get behind this project, and build something good for the people."

Commissioner Colleen Hufford apologized to residents for the bickering of her colleagues on the panel and told them they were not being professional.  Hufford says after more than one year of working on this project, some commissioners are getting cold feet.

She says, "They need to stop that. They need to understand that sometimes you don't get the very best project, but you get a good project."

After a four hour debate, commissioners agreed to write down their concerns about the contract with developers and to hold another work shop in two weeks.

Commissioner Gene Fry expressed frustration with the way the meeting was conducted.  "I think what you've seen here tonight is political gamesmanship rather than a work session. So if we can move forward with a true work session, I welcome it."

Tuesday night, developers promised city leaders they could have two restaurants open in Concord Village within three years, instead of within seven to ten years.  It is one of only a few things that got resolved as residents sat and listened through four frustrating hours.

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