Residents oppose proposed new high school location


ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – A proposed new high school in West Orange County is drawing opposition from neighbors who live in what would be its backyard.

The new school, which would be located at the northeast corner of Winter Garden-Vineland Road and Ficquette Road in Windermere, has already won the support of some parents whose children face a growing overcrowding issue at nearby West Orange High School. The overcrowding is fueled by new housing developments popping up in the area.

"Change does happen," said Ricardo Cumberbatch. "We are for change."

But he isn't for the kind of change that would see a new high school built where an orange grove now sits right next to his gated community.

"Those lights would be right over there for my neighbors. The noise, also," he said.

Cumberbatch said Orange County has already declared the area a "rural settlement," and a comprehensive plan drawn up back in 1991 stipulates what can and cannot be built.

"Noise factor, not part of the comprehensive plan. The lights doesn't comply with the comprehensive plan. The use of land doesn't comply with the comprehensive plan," Cumberbatch claimed.

Because of this, he and some of his neighbors have established their own non-profit organization and have taken their petition drive online to get the plans for the school moved. They've even raised more than $10,000 to pay for a lawyer to help with their fight.

"If you go to Oak Ridge High School, you see exactly what it looks like. It's a big box, a prison, and that's something we don't want in our community."

The Orange County Planning and Zoning Commission meets this Friday to discuss the lot where Orange County Public Schools wants to build the school. If it gets approved there, the full Board of Commissioners will cast the final vote.

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