Orange County Community Meeting

4/26/2015 – Questions to ask at the Community Meeting on the 28th

This community meeting is our opportunity to express our concerns over this re-zoning to Orange County.  You will hear from the developers on how they envision these developments will look but this can change.  It is important to keep the eye on the ball and focus on what this is about, re-zoning.

Below are a list of questions to ask Orange County at the community meeting on the 28th at 6:30 pm at Corner Lakes Middle School.

Traffic Questions:

  • Traffic on McCulloch is the worst it has been and increasing every day.  What is the plan to reduce the traffic on McCulloch?
  • What is the plan to handle the 9 light problem at the 408 and Hwy 50?
  • We have heard that the Expressway Authority is in the midst of a traffic study to extend the 408, do you have an update and what affect will it have on these developments?
  • When was the latest official traffic study done for these roads by Orange County and if not when is one planned?

Econ Questions:

  • What does St. Johns Water Management say about this development?
  • What is the effect to Seminole County seeing the Econ River flows into Seminole County on it’s way to the St. Johns
  • What about the four legged inhabitants that are on this land?  Where will they go when they are pushed out of their homes?
  • What about the environmentally sensitive nature of the Econ basin?  How will this be preserved?

School Questions:

  • Has a school study been done to determine how many schools are needed and space set aside inside these developments to account for this increase?
  • We just went through 3 major re-zoning situations that were very hard for certain people including the BCC.  What steps are being taken to prevent this if these developments are built?


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4/26/2015 – video of Lake Pickett Developments

Here is a video on regarding the Lake Pickett Developments.

If you want to read the story you can find it here:

FOX 35 News Orlando

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Traffic in East Orange County

4/16/2015 – Email to Orange County regarding traffic in East Orange County

Below is the email I wrote to Orange County regarding traffic in East Orange County.

From: []
Sent: Tuesday, April 14, 2015 7:37 AM
To: ‘'; ‘'; ‘'; ‘'; ‘jennifer thompson'; ‘'; ‘'; ‘'; ‘'; ‘'; ‘'; ‘'; ‘’
Subject: FW: What does “fixing the roads” mean to East Orange County

It became very apparent at the staff meeting on April 2nd that the words, “fixing the roads” means different things to different people.

I think there is some definite miscommunication going on as well as a bit of evolution that has occurred over the last couple of years.

Mr. Nastasi presented a chart showing many of the county roads failing as well as Hwy 50.  I think it became very clear when Mr. Nastasi explained that the current technology to “fix the roads”, meaning it is reaching capacity or is over-capacity, is to widen the road is not exactly what residents in East Orange County meant when we say “fix the roads”.

I think when staff heard us saying “fix the road”, it was interpreted as widening the roads.  I also think that earlier on meaning three years ago to present, we, the residents, were not as educated on all the roads in East Orange County and it took time to come to the conclusions we are at now.  Earlier on there was discussions about widening roads as we gained more knowledge about our roadways.  This probably added to the miscommunications.  Because of this, all of us were looking at different options based on our own personal point of view and through a lot of communication finally arrived at what I will explain below.  Of course we cannot speak for everyone in East Orange County but I would have to say that there are very few that possess the knowledge of the area and have been as actively engaged as we are.  We meaning the people that you know and invite to meetings on a regular basis.

The turning point for me came when an email thread circulated among East Orange County folks from different areas sharing their own experiences on the roads.  This included people living on 419, Lake Pickett, S. Tanner, N. Tanner, McCulloch, Percival and Hwy 50.   Through this communication, we realized that the problem was that “back” roads (S. Tanner, Lake Pickett and N. Tanner) have been turned into primary commuter roads of choice.   The reason is because commuters do not want to travel on Hwy 50 due to the time spent in traffic jams caused by 8 stop lights within a 2 mile stretch of roadway on either side of the 408 expressway.  It became very clear that the problem with our roadways is not the “back” roads but instead Hwy 50.  We believe that if the main commuter roads are expanded, the “back” roads will fix themselves.

We also realize that 6-laning Hwy 50 will indeed give a reprieve for several years but in time will also fail.  We know it will fail even without new development and the logical thought is that if 5,000 homes are added, the problem will be much worse.  We would prefer the “back” roads remain rural and instead focus given to Hwy 50 and the 408.  The 6-laning of Hwy 50 to 520 needs to be accelerated and the 408 needs to stretch east also giving more east/west lanes to accommodate traffic far into the future.  Perhaps some sort of flyover can be built by the Expressway Authority to circumvent the 8 stop lights on Hwy 50.  I would encourage whoever is doing the study to look west of the 408 on Hwy 50 one mile to Alafaya Blvd. as well as east past Avalon Parkway when the study is performed.

We do not want McCulloch, N. Tanner, Lake Pickett or S. Tanner 4-laned including 419 north of Lake Pickett road.  We would prefer these remain 2-lane roads.  We would like a roundabout at the intersection of McCulloch and Worchester as this would facilitate traffic exiting University Estates to easily merge into McCulloch traffic.

I hope this clearly explains our position.


RJ Mueller





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4/10/2015 – Pupil Assignment will hold a community meeting on Monday, April 13 at 6:30p.m

I am not too sure why this is being considered but it might be worth following to see what affect it will have on traffic in our area.

Pupil Assignment will hold a community meeting on Monday, April 13 at 6:30 p.m. concerning proposed rezoning of students to provide relief to Avalon MS beginning the 2016-2017 school year.

Families that could be impacted have students that are currently residing within the attendance zones for Avalon, Corner Lake, Discovery, Legacy, Liberty, Odyssey, Stonewall Jackson and Union Park middle schools.

Options for the assignment of students will be presented and questions answered at this meeting. This is an informational meeting only. No formal action will be taken.

The school board will hold a formal Rule Development Work Session on Tuesday, May 5 at 4:30 p.m. The proposed options will be presented to the school board and they may determine which option(s) to advertise for a public hearing on Tuesday, June 9 at 5:30 p.m.

All meetings will be held at School Board headquarters located at 445 West Amelia St., Orlando.

For additional information go the Pupil Assignment Web page at or call 407.317.3233.

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Orange County Government

4/8/2015 – What do I think of the BCC vote regarding the West Orange relief school

West Orange High School Orange Shirts

On the Orlando Sentinel website recently there was an article regarding the West Orange relief school.  You can read it here:  West Orange High School Relief Decision

How does this relate to my primary focus which is traffic in East Orange County.  I guess you will have to read on to find out because there is a very direct relationship to what is going on in East Orange County.  It will become clear as you read my blog.

Approving the West Orange High School is one of those decisions that I am sure was very hard for the commissioners.  The rooms were overwhelmed with orange shirts in support of the school.  Understandably the orange shirt people want their kids to go to a school that is not crowded and there is not doubt a school was sorely needed.

The issue is not the need for a school, it is a sequence of events leading up to this that is the issue.  It is that we as humans don’t really learn from history and tend to repeat it over and over.  If we dwell in only the present, the school issue has a simple answer.  More people want the school than those who opposed it so put the school in.  But just because there is a majority does not mean it is the morally right.

Trail of Tears

What does history tell us about this.   The picture on the right is called the “Trail of Tears”.  In 1838 and 1839, as part of Andrew Jackson’s Indian removal policy, the Cherokee nation was forced to give up its lands east of the Mississippi River and to migrate to an area in present-day Oklahoma. The Cherokee people called this journey the “Trail of Tears,” because of its devastating effects. The migrants faced hunger, disease, and exhaustion on the forced march. Over 4,000 out of 15,000 of the Cherokees died.

This may seem a bit drastic when comparing it to a BCC vote over a high school in a rural settlement but there are similarities that can’t be ignored.  Just like these Indians, rural settlements have certain rights.  This quote came from this document, Rural Settlement Study.  “Orange County has made a number of efforts to preserve and protect rural communities in recognition of their historical nature, existing development patterns, and community cohesiveness. Such efforts include the designation of Rural Settlements on the Future Land Use Map of the Orange County 1990-2010 Comprehensive Policy Plan, the development of related future land use policies, protection of some Rural Settlements included in Joint Planning Area Agreements with municipalities, and creation of Preservation Districts.”

The Orange County Comprehensive Plan clearly defines what is allowed inside a rural settlement and a high school is not allowed.  So as the Cherokee Indians rights were violated so have the rights of the people who live in the rural settlement.  So who is to blame for allowing this to get to this very difficult decision which left the present mayor and commissioners with little choice but to approve this high school.  This started long before any of these people were in office and who knows if those before had any inclination this would happen.  Perhaps it is an unforeseen set of circumstances that brought us here.

Now this vote is in the history books and this high school in this rural settlement will forever be a monument that stands in testimony of the violation of some peoples rights because of the will of the majority.  And now like the Trail of Tears this is past history and we move forward.

Let’s turn our attention to the future and look at East Orange County and two mammoth developments that are coming up for a vote by the BCC in a few short weeks.  Putting traffic aside for a moment, there are many people who have bought land in this area that want a rural lifestyle and at this time are protected by the Comprehensive Plan.  But the Comprehensive Plan can by law be changed through a defined process as it has been many times.  There is no guarantee that rural land can stay rural.

For as minute, lets review the history of what happened in West Orange County.  Years ago people came and bought land in the rural settlement with certain rights.  But all around them developments were built and thousands of people moved in completely encircling the rural settlement.  A Publix shopping center across the street with other commercial property close by as well as many suburban communities.  OCPS decided to buy cheap land inside the rural settlement even though it was prohibited via the protection of the Comprehensive Plan.  OCPS did this because they assumed the BCC would grant a variance as had been done in the past.  To OCPS surprise, when they went in front of the BCC to ask for their variance it was denied which set this on a legal court battle.  The judge decided that because the BCC had allowed all the developments to occur around the settlement, the high school was compatible with the surrounding area and should be allowed.  So now the high school is going to be built.

Did anyone really win?  The clear losers are the rural settlement people just as the Cherokee Indians are the clear loser.  Some people will walk away thinking they won but they have unknowingly given away something much more valuable.  They gave away the same thing that the people who forced the Cherokee Indians to walk the Trail of Tears which is a violation of rights.

We see this occur over and over in history but society repeats it over and over again.

Traffic in East Orange County

I predict that if and when the Lake Pickett developments are built something like this will occur that will strip the rights of the people who live in these rural areas because they will be overwhelmed by numbers.  There will be many thousands of people living in these mammoth developments that will impose their will on the people who have previously been given rights through certain laws.  Our crystal ball lies in knowing the past and learning from it.  Will we make the same mistakes or learn from them?

How does this relate to traffic.  More people demand more roads or widened roads so the people who live in the area who have enjoyed rural roads will be subjected to suburban type roadways with mega traffic.  Your time will be stolen away minute by minute as you wait in lines of cars trying to get to your destination.  At this point in time, there is no defined plan to improve our roadways with the population we have now let alone 10,000 more people and cars on the road.  Is this really what we want?  Do we really want developments to continue moving eastward until the only one who can stop it is God using the St. John’s river?  Do we really want our rural areas to be paved over with concrete until there is nothing left for our children to enjoy?

The past can never be changed but our future is in our hands.

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4/6/2015 – Econ should be eastern growth boundary, Beth Kassab

Beth Kassab – Orlando Sentinel

Beth Kassab wrote this article in the Orlando Sentinel and posted this video.

Orange County’s fire chief couldn’t have been clearer.

The chief stood before Orange County commissioners last month and said he doesn’t have enough fire stations to respond to emergencies quickly enough.

The problem is particularly bad on the far east side of the county.

Yet, in just a few short months, Orange commissioners will be asked to support a development the size of the city of Longwood for — where else? — the far-east side of the county.

This is the definition of sprawl: development that outpaces what people need to live there.

Like being able to call 911 and get a paramedic quickly enough to save your life.

Or drive to work on roads that aren’t clogged with unbearable congestion.

Or send children to schools that are nearby and have enough classroom space.

These are the inconvenient messes that taxpayers have to clean up after landowners and developers make a bundle on sprawl.

And the bill is hefty.

The tab for the fire-station shortage alone is about $25 million.

Said Fire Chief Otto Drozd, “Travel time continues to go up, and that’s a product of increased population, increased demand and housing developments that are coming up farther away from where we have existing resources [emphasis mine].”

Linda Chapin saw this coming.

Nearly 20 years ago when she was county mayor, Chapin tried to make the Econlockhatchee River the official easternmost limit for development.

Drawing a line in the water at the Econ made a lot of sense.

It was an easily recognizable boundary. The land near the river is environmentally sensitive. And the county had plenty of land west of the river where the county was better equipped to provide cops, firefighters, parks, schools and roads.

Chapin’s effort failed, but county officials, for the most part, seemed to respect the Econ as an unofficial boundary.

But, possibly, not for long.

Certainly not if Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and commissioners approve 4,661 homes (including 700 apartments) on 2,600 acres of ranch land near Lake Pickett and Chuluota roads.

“Once you cross that river, what becomes the next stopping point? The St. Johns?” Chapin asked this week. “We are not Atlanta — yet.”

The best way to prevent sprawl is to respect the Econ.

Equally important is for Orange County to recognize that the ripple effect of 4,600 new homes beyond the county line.

The Lake Pickett developments would forever change the look and feel of Chuluota, a rural community that straddles Orange and Seminole counties.

Seminole County Commission Chairman Brenda Carey met this week with Jacobs about creating a joint planning agreement for the eastern section of their two counties.

So far, they haven’t agreed to anything other than to keep talking.

Seminole Commissioner Lee Constantine deserves credit for demanding that his county gets heard.

“Water doesn’t stop flowing and people don’t stop driving at the county border,” he said.

If Seminole County is going to have any say this time around, it’s going to have to act fast.

A community meeting for Orange residents is scheduled for later this month, followed by public hearings in June and July.

Residents who live in the rural area and who oppose the development are mobilized.

But every taxpayer should be concerned about the cost of sprawl.

Chapin says Metro Orlando’s tolerance for sprawl is less than it was in 1998 when her proposal was voted down by the commission.

“Look how excited people are about SunRail and about urban density in the right places,” she said. “I just think … no, I believe we’ve become more sophisticated about how we want the whole region to develop.”

I think she’s right when it comes to the average resident.

I’m less sure about Orange’s elected commissioners.

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Orange County Community Meeting

4/6/2015 – Email regarding community meetings from OC staff

From: []
Sent: Monday, April 6, 2015 9:56 AM
Subject: Lake Pickett Update

The April 21, 2015 Community Meeting has been canceled. The first meeting will be on April 28, 2015.

1. Updates and revised Justification Statements were provided by the Applicants allowing the applications to be determined to be “sufficient” to proceed for transmittal.

2. A meeting was held with each applicant by the OC Transportation Planning Section to discuss roadway impacts, connectivity and corresponding Applicant responsibilities and mitigation needs.

3. Division comments were received and a meeting was held with each applicant by the OC Planning Section to discuss subsequent revisions to the Regulating Plans and Comp Plan Policies and Objectives.

4. A Community Representatives Meeting was held on Thursday April 2, 2015. Traffic, roadway improvements and configuration, connectivity and the nature of the proposed Transects and matching densities at the borders were discussed.

5. The transmittal procedure was reviewed and the updated schedule was presented. Originally Four, but now to allow the Applicants sufficient time to address comments received at the Community Representative’s meeting three community meetings are proposed. The meeting will take place in Corner Lakes middle school cafeteria on April, 28, May 12 and May 19, 2015 at 6:30 to 8:30 PM.

Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.


Blanche V. Hardy, PG
Planner, Comprehensive Planning Section
Orange County Planning Division
Community, Environmental and Development Services Department
201 S. Rosalind Ave., 2nd Floor
Orlando, FL 32801
Ph: 407.836.5882 Fax: 407.836.5862

PLEASE NOTE: Florida has a very broad public records law (F. S. 119).
All e-mails to and from County Officials are kept as a public record.
Your e-mail communications, including your e-mail address may be
disclosed to the public and media at any time.

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