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  • Writer's pictureOrlando Sentinel

Will Orange County voters get to consider rural land protections? County board will decide.

Orange County commissioners will take on the rural boundary discussion Tuesday that a citizens’ panel studied for nearly a year with advocates hopeful the elected board will put the hotly contested growth control issue on the November ballot for voters to decide.

The board will get the report of the county’s Charter Review Commission and its nearly unanimous recommendation for a referendum.


“Is there an appetite on the Board of County Commission to place a rural boundary amendment on the ballot and let the people of our county decide? Absolutely,” said Eric Grimmer, a lawyer who headed the charter panel subcommittee that worked on the proposal.


But the board probably won’t do that Tuesday, he said.


Disagreement over where to allow new residential and commercial development has raged for a quarter century in Orange County during which the population has swelled from 900,000 people, according to the 2000 Census, to an estimated 1.5 million now. The issue is so controversial that the state legislature has already tried to block the rural boundary measure from the November ballot, and the charter panel is working to thwart its efforts.


Grimmer said establishing boundaries in the charter is necessary to “check destructive suburban sprawl.”


His group’s proposed amendment, opposed by developers who argue it infringes on land-use rights, aims to protect rural lands by adding rules and language in the charter to make it harder to develop acres in unincorporated Orange County outside urban service areas.


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