ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – A judge’s recommended order Friday could serve as a huge setback for a housing development that had been in the works for East Orange County.
Commissioner Emily Bonilla said the judge’s recommended order against the project known as "The Grow" in Lake Pickett labeled the development as “inconsistent” with the county’s regulations.
The project, which was approved last year by county commissioners, was set to unfold east of the Econlockhatchee River and would include 2,000 homes and farms.
Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs released a statement following the recommended order.
"Since the litigation is ongoing, I won't be commenting on the recommended order from the Administrative Law Judge, but as I said at the time of the public hearings, I could not support either of the Lake Pickett projects,” Jacobs said. “I had heard from hundreds of citizens who were overwhelmingly opposed to the projects. For me to have ignored such a large number of voters, I would have needed to see a clear demonstration of overriding public good."
Though proponents of the project may have suffered a loss, Friday’s decision was considered a win for residents concerned about traffic and the environmental impacts the development would bring to rural Orange County.
Bonilla also considered the order a success.
"I am very pleased with the results of the order. Finally, after over three years, the people's voice has been heard. Fighting the Lake Pickett developments is what prompted me to run for office and what I ran my campaign on,” Bonilla said in a statement. “Growth continues to encroach upon rural Orange County. It is more important than ever for County Commissioners to ensure that our environmentally sensitive, rural and agricultural areas are protected for future generations.”
Bonilla said while she recognizes the importance of maintaining a delicate balance between rural and urban, she plans to continue pressing for the preservation of rural East Orange County.
“I will request that the Board of County Commissioners vote to support and solidify the judge’s order at the next BCC meeting," Bonilla said.