Orange County commissioners make decision on controversial developments

Board votes in favor of approving for changing text within comprehensive plan

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Commissioners heard hours of public input Tuesday, overwhelmingly in opposition to the proposed developments known as Lake Pickett North, or "Sustany" and Lake Pickett South, or "The Grow."

The board ended up voting 4-3 Tuesday night in favor of approving for changing text within the comprehensive plan and adoption of the map amendment.

The two developments cover a large stretch of land north of Colonial Drive and east of the Econ River in east Orange County.  Lake Pickett North would butt up to Seminole County on the northern end.

Developers want to build more than 4,000 new homes on more than 2,600 acres.

Many who live in the area are fighting back. More than 90 showed up in force at the 7 1/2 hour commission meeting, wearing red shirts stating "Save Orange County" and "Hold the Line."

They said the thousands of homes will ruin the rural feel of the community, damage the environment and create too much traffic on already congested State Road 50.

"Fish kills, algae blooms -- I'm concerned the Econ will be next," said one opponent of the project.

"I lived here 28 years ago. I got wiped out by East/West Expressway and might get wiped out again," said another opponent. "I know what it's like to get wiped out and turn upside down the lives of so many people."

"There's a reason the Econ has been zoned rural. People live there for that very reason, but what's the good in zoning rural if doesn't do any good?" asked another.

A representative from the city of Oveido urged commissioners to reject the projects, saying the city stands with Seminole's opposition because the area could not handle the additional traffic and the additional housing would strain its resources.

Supporters of the "The Grow," for its proposed "agri-hood" -- homes built around 9 acres of working farmland -- and of "Sustany" said the housing is necessary with the developments' proximity to the University of Central Florida and Research Park.

Developers are willing to contribute $26 million towards widening State Road 50 and other congested roads in the area.

"Don't let East Orange County get left behind," said one supporter. He urged commissioners to take advantage of the private funding for road construction and the developers' willingness to create infrastructure in the area.

"I'm excited for what Lake Pickett has -- for my children to bike over, to see gardens and play in the parks," said another supporter.

Orange County officials said the rezoning and regulatory plan hearing for "The Grow" will be continued on Sept. 20 at 2 p.m. so that some additional conditions may be put in place.

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