|Innovation Way East/Growth Fight/Econ River|
|Written by Marjorie Holt|
|Friday, June 25 2010|
INNOVATION WAY EAST As the Sierra Club Central Florida Group Conservation Chair, I have worked hard to protect the Econlockhatchee River and the lands surrounding the wildlife corridor. On June 22, 2010, the Orange County Board of County Commissioners denied the applicant's request for a comprehensive plan amendment. Below is an article about the public hearing. Thanks to all who voiced their opposition to this project.
Orange growth fight political fallout: winners v. losers
The project, pushed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormon Church, would have put 6,343 residences and 2.2 million square feet of commercial and office space out near the Econlockatchee River headwaters.
Backers said it was not going to harm the sensitive river region, yet could usher in hundreds or thousands of jobs. Critics saw dubious job claims and more sprawl amid a housing glut that could harm an Orange environmental gem.
After a series of mostly 3-3 tie votes, the project got shot down and can’t come back for two years. But the political fallout from it is rich. Here’s a roundup of the winners and losers:
– Lake Mary Jane Alliance — Sierra Club, average citizens and other activists logged hefty unpaid hours fighting to get this project to an acceptable state, but again, this group and spokeswoman Suzanne Arnold were tight at game time.
– Commissioner Fred Brummer lost property rights pals by voting against the Mormons, but won admirers who can now count on him to fight for line-in-the-sand environmental issues: guard the Econ. Only the brave will try to predict Brummer’s next vote, and he sent a message to mayoral wannabes and political rookies that he’s no pushover.
– Commissioner Linda Stewart voted against IWE, so foes will paint her as a job killer. But she trotted the globe on her own nickel for employer recruiting bids. Successful or not, she’s got a retort. Teamed with Crotty and Brummer to halt what critics saw as an Econ invasion. This fires up her green supporters in the mayor’s race, and with little campaign money, she needed this shot in the arm.
Mormon Church had a chance to look like job-creating heroes, but courted bad vibes and fueled doubts about its motives by insisting on keeping executive housing in a sensitive Turkey Creek corridor. Its public relations team, led by Orlando’s Consensus Communications, let this one slip away. Plus, at the end of the day, it’s project is on ice.
Motorists, taxpayers and construction workers. Helping pay for a new BeachLine interchange was part of the pitch the Mormons made and most agreed it would have helped long-range travel in the area, and put paychecks in road crew and engineering types’ pockets. The cost-sharing could have saved taxpayers down the road.
Commissioner Bill Segal, Scott Boyd and Tiffany Moore Russell. Segal takes the biggest hit here. Any claim to be the next Green Mayor will come under easier attack after he backed this project so hard. Did he really need this to shine his job-creator crown after being a developer, homebuilder and restaurant-guy all his adult life? He also wasn’t able to broker The Big Deal, and his claim to electoral fame is ‘Who do you want sitting across the table from the next big employer.’ Segal and the other developer-friendly commissioners on this, Boyd and Moore Russell, couldn’t close the deal.
The best — or is it worst? — part of this growth knife fight is that most of these folks will go at it again. The Camino Reale development proposal — and its 4,000 residences in the same basic sensitive area – comes to a vote Tuesday.
|Last Updated ( Friday, June 25 2010 )|
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