The Grow Coming to Fruition; January 23, 2020

Orlando, Florida (January 14, 2020)

Orange County Commissioner Emily Bonilla has long advocated for the protection of rural land. In 2016, a developer proposed a large scale development in the rural settlement area of east Orange County. Before coming to office, Commissioner Bonilla began advocating for conserving the settlement area, and she continued this cause once elected as District 5 Commissioner. This controversial development was appealed and made it to Governor Rick Scott and his cabinet, who granted final approval in favor of the development.

Once the project was approved, Commissioner Bonilla set her sights on ways to mitigate the effects of this development on an already strained road system. The issue came into full swing when FDOT failed to advance a project widening State Road 50, which proponents for the development thought would alleviate the failing road system in that area. Although the Central Florida Expressway Authority and the Florida Turnpike may advance projects to expand State Road 50, the projects are on hold due to funding.

“It was tricky because the development was already approved, so there was no way to stop it from coming. Now I had to put all my effort into finding ways to mitigate the effects to the failing roadway,” said Commissioner Bonilla. “I am happy to have had the cooperation of Derek Bruce, representing The Grow applicants, and Jon Weiss and staff at Orange County. They have been instrumental in incorporating the terms of this agreement to help meet the expectations of the community.”

As the saying goes, when there is a will, there’s a way, and that way was paved at this Tuesday’s Board of County Commissioners meeting when the board approved a Roadway Network and Mitigation Agreement. Based on the current payment schedule in the agreement, the developer will pay $26 million by 2024. The county will allocate the funds to mitigate the impacts on the surrounding roads impacted by the development.

“My next step is to invite the community to a meeting where we can propose various projects to apply these funds,” said Commissioner Bonilla. “I want to ensure that we hear our citizens and that we are building the infrastructure to handle the new incoming east orange residents.”

HallDSi is the community planner for the original approvals and the continued permitting.