- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—An impassioned crowd has turned turn out today as the Orange County Commission considers a pair of super-sized developments proposed for east Orange County.

Nearly 250 people have packed the commission’s meeting room, many of them forced to stand. Some are wearing red “Stop urban sprawl” T-shirts while other have on green “Support smart growth” shirts.

Online petitions, including one that insists “the last strip of rural land in East Orlando is being attacked,” have drummed up opposition to the projects known as Lake Pickett North, which aims to build 2,000 homes on 1,436 acres, and Lake Pickett South, which proposes 2,250 residential units for 1,237 acres.

The projects, both needing amendments to the county’s land-use plan, would reshape a portion of east Orange County into dense neighborhoods and spill over the Econlockhatchee River, which has served for two decades as the unofficial line separating the county’s urban core from its rural eastern side.

Seminole County Chairman Brenda Carey wrote to Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs last month, expressing her county’s concerns over the proposed developments which would sit side by side just south of Seminole’s border. Seminole residents fear increased traffic on already failing roads and a heightened risk of flooding from stormwater runoff if the developments are built.

“Rest assured that you have my continued commitment of Orange County that we will thoughtfully consider the issues raised by the Seminole County BCC throughout our deliberations,” Jacobs said in a reply to Carey last week. “Particularly as our residents continue to move so seamlessly within the Seminole-Orange corridor, it makes great sense to work together on these and other issues.”

In 2010, Orange County commissioners rejected a proposal to build thousands of homes on some of the same acres, which are located about two miles from the campus of the University of Central Florida.

Developers Sean Froelich of Lake Pickett North and Dwight Saathoff of Lake Pickett South must persuade commissioners to send their requests for a future land-use amendment to the state for approval. If the commission refuses, the developers would have to reconfigure their plans before they try again.

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