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COLUMN

Council Watch

Billy Manes paying attention to local government so you don't have to

It was a hotbox of horrors at this week’s council cauldron, beginning with an Orange County Health Department presentation on its anti-smoking “all in” program and a little tidbit about cigarette butts in public parks. “What if the little child picks it up and eats it?” health department director Dr. Kevin Sherin asked. Now that is a good question! Also, gross. The fire meme carried through to several other tragic situations – one of which involved a burning human – but that’s enough terrible imagery for now.

Speaking of terrible imagery, this was also the week of the city’s historic-district calendar unveiling, meaning that in addition to a very long black-and-white slideshow of musty old houses, the audience was treated to the meta-tastic photographing of photographers holding calendars with their photos in them. Cheese.

Item: The city adopts an ordinance changing the zoning designation from AC-3/SP to O-1/SP on certain real property generally located north of the Tangelo Park neighborhood, south of the Festival Bay Mall, east of the International Drive corridor and west of Crownpointe Commerce Park and the Florida Turnpike.

Translation: Sometimes it seems like stories are created out of thin air to pit residential concerns with business ambitions, because somebody wants to gripe on the evening news and clutch at her pearls. In the case of Orlando Thrill Park – the tragically named death trap with extreme tendencies that are just one safety level up from the fairground attractions designed to assist in the indigestion of funnel cake – the zoning roller coaster has been a yearlong house of crazy mirrors. Suffice to say, the thing was never really going to happen, because we all know the taste levels of I-Drive and Tangelo Park would never sink to the level of an upside-down gondola water-torture ride. I-Drive Investors LLC pitched it back in April, but the development company was quickly shot down. Then, in June – following a futile appeal – the company came to an agreement with the city to go for the more tasteful option of a low-density office complex; that deal was adopted in October. Now, just to be sure that nobody will be vomiting anywhere near Tangelo Park ever, the remaining up-in-the-air 6.78-acre southwest portion of the 78-acre property will be officially zoned into business boredom. The thrill has gone.

Item: The city approves the lease purchase of three Nissan Leaf electric automobiles from Nissan Motor Acceptance Corp.

Translation: The future is now-ish! Last year, the city and the county (plus a couple of utilities, natch) went in together on a program they called Get Ready Central Florida. The idea was to bring the plug-and-play glory of the all-electric Nissan Leaf into the region’s greened up idea of environmentalism. This week, the city will purchase three green Leafs with 89,244 green pieces of financial paper. But wait! There’s more! Though the cars would normally run the city $35,350.25 each, all of that viridian virtue that they hold earns the city $7,500 back in tax credits per car; also, this is a lease-to-own venture meaning that after just two years of bulk payments amounting to $44,622, the city will have the opportunity to purchase the cars for $1 apiece! So, if you skip the two years part, it really sounds like a great deal.

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