top of page
Lakeland commissioners reject controversial Dixieland cell tower
Screen Shot 2020-11-18 at 8.25.03 AM.png

Maya Lora

The Ledger


November 17, 2020  -  The Lakeland City Commission voted 3-2 on Monday to reject a proposed cellphone tower on 1055 Ariana St. 


The commissioners were moved by testimony from several residents from the Dixieland neighborhood that would have lived in close proximity to the base of the proposed 150-foot monopole tower. Residents also spoke out at the October Lakeland Planning and Zoning meeting, where the plan was approved on a 4-1 vote.


"I will not support the tower today because I do think the residents that I represent have viable issues and they are concerned about property values and I cannot in good conscience vote yes to support this," said Commissioner Sara Roberts McCarley, who represents Dixieland. 

Fire escape plans denied
for Deen house preschool 

Allison Guinn



Oct 24, 2019  -  A request to add fire escapes and alley-side parking to the historic Columbus W. Deen house was denied by the Historic Preservation Board’s Design Review Committee Thursday.


Though the committee approved adding an accessibility ramp and four parking spots adjacent to the driveway of the home at 417 Frank Lloyd Wright Way, the rejected parts of the request leaves the potential buyers to either significantly rethink the project or appeal the decision.


The applicants, Thomas and Madison Brawner, hope to open a preschool in the 5,500-square-foot home, which Thomas Brawner said is consistent with the building’s long history of non-residential use.




The city's Historic Design Review Committee considers proposed architectural changes to the Deen house 

Proposal for Historic House Draws Passionate Support, Opposition

Barry Friedman



October 16, 2019  -  A genteel battle of ideas played out Tuesday morning as Lakeland’s planning board pondered the best use for a large and historic home in the South Lake Morton neighborhood.

Both sides were represented by articulate speakers who spoke passionately about whether the Planning and Zoning Board should allow a preschool at the Deen House, a 1912-era, 6,736-square-foot mansion at the corner of Frank Lloyd Wright Way and Success Avenue.

It could be several months before Thomas and Madison Brawner get a final decision on the conditional use permit needed to open the Alta Schoolhouse, a preschool for up to 70 children ages 2 to 4, at 417 E. Frank Lloyd Wright Way.


The Presentation

Madison and Thomas Brawner present their proposal to establish a pre-school in the historic Deen house at 417 Frank Lloyd Wright Way.

The Reactions

Thomas Milligan, who lives directly across the street on Success Avenue, was among the 26 speakers who addressed the board

The Rebuttal

The Brawners were afforded the opportunity to respond to issues arising from public comments

The Advisement

Teresa Maio and members of the city's Planning Department staff noted their concerns regarding parking and traffic

Screen Shot 2019-10-11 at 3.48.38 PM.png
Roberts Academy seeks expansion

The City of Lakeland requests an expansion of the Special Public Interest (SPI) zoning overlay for Florida Southern College to allow a new 2-story school building, as part of an expansion of the existing Roberts Academy school, on property located at 1131 Frank Lloyd Wright Way. A map of the subject property is included as Attachment “B.”

Review the recommendation HERE

Screen Shot 2019-10-11 at 3.46.19 PM.png
Proposal envisions apartments on a revitalized Dixieland alley

Barry Friedman



Mar 7, 2019  -  An asphalt alley just west of Florida Avenue in Dixieland would become a landscaped, brick-paved walkway accompanied by 48 one-bedroom apartments, under a concept envisioned by two developers and an architect.

Some “what-if” brainstorming led to a series of renderings showing a walkable connection between Cob & Pen and Dixieland Village. The pathway, designed for low vehicle traffic, would be shadowed on three of those four blocks with two-story apartment buildings.

The intended effect: add the urban density sought by city planners and create a buffer between businesses and the historic neighborhood’s bungalows.


Watch video highlights here or review the entire meeting here

But wait ... there's more

During the course of its two-and-a-half-hour meeting the board reviews and considered proposals from citizens seeking to remove two windows to a a major developer seeking to add 99 apartments to the Garden District. Select from among the links below to learn more.

Garden District project targets 1-bedroom renters

Barry Friedman


Jan 24, 2019  -  The developers of two three-story apartment buildings planned for Lakeland’s Garden District are focusing on a specific market segment: people who want a one-bedroom apartment within an easy walk to downtown. 

The 90 apartments would be built on four now-vacant lots on the north side of Lime Street on both sides of Lake Avenue. They are a response to the demand for “quality one-bedroom apartments,” according to Shaun Puri, vice president of development for Broadway Real Estate Services.


Screen Shot 2019-01-25 at 9.04.16 AM.png
Lakeland commission OKs Garden District changes

Mike Ferguson

The Ledger


LAKELAND — The saga of the changing Garden District has come to an end — for now.

During Monday’s meeting, the City Commission voted 7-0 to adopt new guidelines in a portion of the city’s historic Garden District. Changes include assigning Lakeland Downtown Development Authority building guidelines to new construction taller than 40 feet in all parts of the Garden District and increasing maximum building heights from 40 feet to 60 feet, except south of Lime Street.

In that area, maximum heights will go from 36 feet to 40 feet. New construction also will be required to go through the Historic Preservation Board.



“We’ve allowed staff to be pushed into the corner, because we have not done our part, I’m ready to go along with what we have now.”  - Vice Mayor Phillip Walker 

Commissioners Consider Code Changes for Garden District

Marylin Meyer



In the months since the Lakeland City Commission began talking about increasing the height limit on multi-family buildings in the historic Lake Morton neighborhood’s Garden District, developer Baylis Consulting put together plans for a 54-foot-tall, 40-unit apartment building.


But the developer cannot start construction of the contemporary-style building until city commissioners decide

whether to amend an ordinance that would raise the building height limit from 40 feet to 60 feet. 

When commissioners gathered Friday morning to get background information about issues they will be voting on Monday afternoon, they found out that approval by the Historic Preservation Board is not part of the equation for new construction in the Garden District. The Historic Preservation Board’s reach mostly covers existing buildings.


Potential Garden District changes raise concern

Mike Ferguson

The Ledger

LAKELAND — This Mr. Rogers may soon have a neighbor he doesn’t want.

Michael Rogers and other members of Lakeland’s historic Garden District are concerned about a new, proposed 40-unit, four-story apartment building near Lime Street and Indiana Avenue. For that to be possible, the City Commission will need to finalize an ordinance that moves the maximum building height size in the district from 40 feet to 60 feet.

“When we moved to the historic district, we knew it was zoned for multi-family and multi-use; we get that,” Rogers said. “There was a list of guidelines that we have to abide by. Now, we’re putting up buildings that de-emphasize these historical structures. This building is going to dwarf these houses.”


Screen Shot 2018-12-13 at 6.58.13 AM.png

The City Commission will need to finalize an ordinance that increases the maximum building height size 20 feet to accommodate a proposed 40-unit, four-story apartment building near Lime Street and Indiana Avenue. The proposed ordinance will be a topic of Friday's Agenda Study.

Site Data.png

Video shows the scale of the proposed project relative to the immediate area.

Use these links to download the site plan and the schematic design package.

Seeds of growth to be planted in Lake Morton's 'Garden District'
Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 5.07.15 PM.png

Building height and economic development in Lakeland's oldest historic neighborhood are back on the docket for consideration by the commission. The formal first reading, which does not provide for public comment, is set for Monday, December 3rd. The second reading, on December 17th will present an opportunity for citizens to weigh in.

Review the entire discussion at Friday's Agenda Study in the video above

Read the ordinance here

How we got here ...
Ledger editorial weighs in on building height

"We can understand — and support — what the City Commission wants to do. Per The Ledger’s previous coverage, city planners want to tear down regulatory barriers so developers can build up — literally and figuratively — growth and economic activity.

"The extra height means more people in a more confined space, particularly with the advocacy for projects promoting infill growth. That’s a positive development, pardon the pun, as well as a potential boon for tax revenues."


Julie Townsend addresses the Commission on behalf of the Lake Morton Neighborhood Association.

Lakeland City Commission delays vote on allowing taller buildings downtown

A possible move to allow taller buildings in downtown Lakeland will wait, as commissioners voted 6-to-0 Monday [June 18] to postpone the decision after they received numerous objections from residents.

“I’m not against the ordinance, but over the weekend, all of us have been contacted by people who have eloquently stated their opinions,” Commissioner Justin Troller said when he proposed the motion to delay the vote. “I would just like to understand where folks who actually live in the community are coming from.”


Former City Commissioner Edie Yates, who spent much of her final term pushing for increased building height in the city's core, delivered a 15-minute recap of the history of her pursuit of residential density during the public comments portion of the City Commission meeting on Monday, June 18.

She was followed art the podium by Lake Morton neighborhood resident, Alice Collins, who encouraged the commissioners to keep current protections in place to preserve the character of the historic district. 

Interim Community Development Director Celeste Deerdorf sought to provide clarity to the timeline, the staff's directives, interactions with the affected communities, and recommendations to the Planning and Zoning Board.

More discussion followed these speakers and you can pick up the meeting at that point by clicking here

Move will impact historic districts

The city’s Planning and Zoning Board recently recommended higher heights for office buildings downtown and apartment or condo buildings in neighborhoods that allow for multi-family structures. The city commission is scheduled to hear public comments and vote on the proposal [on Monday] June 18.

Matthew Lyons, the city’s principal planner, said the areas most likely to be impacted by the change are the South and East Lake Morton Historic Districts, the Garden District and the Dixieland Historic and commercial districts.



Review the Agenda Study 

Call to action

Call to action - City Commissioner At Large Stephanie Madden urges citizens, builders, and developers to learn about proposed changes to the land development code - some of which have been a year in the making - and make their voices heard through email to the commission and attendance at the second hearing which includes comment from the public.

Planning and zoning

Planning & Zoning Board

approves compromise, 4-2

The city will not be raising the roof(s) as much as two former commissioners had recommended. Matt Lyons, principal planner for Lakeland's Community Development department, presented a mid-point compromise on the most controversial section, increasing the allowable height from 40 to 55 feet versus 70 in the city's historic districts.

Larry Durrence spoke against the proposal and voted "No" as did Andrew Snyder. The video here highlights some of the discussion and the entire presentation can be seen here.

Policy Workshop

Two of three commissioners who served in the previous administration, commented on the modified proposal from the staff on increasing building heights in the core city. The formal recommendation will come before the entire commission for a fist reading on Monday, June 4th.

Read the ordinance here.


The times they might be a changin'

The Lake Morton Neighborhood Association hosted a presentation by the City's Planning Manager, Teresa Maio and Interim Community Development Director Celeste Deardorff concerning "proposed changes to building height limits in multi-family zoning disctricts".

The March 24th meeting was well attended and produced serious questions from the audience. The presentation itself can be viewed here, minus the commentary and questions - and answers. 

This visit was part of the City's effort to collect community responses and reactions and to encourage participation in the process.

The Planning and Zoning Board met on Tuesday, April 17th at City Hall. beginning at 8:30. The building height changes were item 7 on the agenda

The video of that part of the meeting is posted here for your review. Please email questions or concerns directly to Teresa Maio.

Follow the Facebook thread on the Lake Morton Neighbors page.

Select a map to open a full-size PDF version.


If you don't have an hour to watch the whole meeting, here's a nine-minute summary which highlights the process - and how the idea was born - along with reactions from the Planning and Zoning Board members, city staff, and affected citizens.


bottom of page