Everything you want to know about the lawsuit against the county of the Lake Pickett Text Amendment

Below is the timeline of events and below that details of the timeline.  And finally below that are links to the documents.

  • 8/11/2017: RECOMMENDED ORDER
  • 8/22/2017: Orange county Board of Commissioners meeting – Discussion Agenda: III.A.1
  • 3/30/2018: NOTICE OF APPEAL

8/17/2017: The Recommended Order by Judge Suzanne Van Wyk:

On Aug 11th, 2017, Judge Suzanne Van Wyk, wrote a recommended order after a final hearing on March 27-29, 2017.

First question, what’s a recommended order?  According to this definition (https://tampaschoolofrealestate.com/dictionary/r/recommended-order/) it is, “a determination by an administrative law judge that includes findings and conclusions, as well as the recommended penalty, if any, required by law or agency rule”.

Here’s a much longer definition, https://www.floridabar.org/news/tfb-journal/?durl=%2Fdivcom%2Fjn%2Fjnjournal01.nsf%2FAuthor%2F1AAB7A3C63B64C88852572C90072D6F5.

Recommended orders from administrative law judges (ALJs) are recommendations to an agency head on how a case should be decided. However, the constraints imposed by F.S. §120.57(1)(l)1 on an agency’s ability to disturb the findings of fact and conclusions of law contained within these recommended orders make them somewhat “final.”

There is emphasis in the last link on “finding of fact” and “conclusion of law“.  In the link it says,

Findings of Facts:
When an agency has a legitimate basis for overturning a finding of fact, it must specifically assert this basis in the final order, either by stating with particularity that the finding was not based on competent substantial evidence or that the proceedings, on which the finding was based, did not comply with the essential requirements of law.

Conclusions of Law:
under F.S. §120.57(1)(l), an agency must state with particularity its reasons for rejecting or modifying the conclusion of law or interpretation of administrative rule, and must find that its substituted conclusion of law or interpretation of administrative rule is as reasonable or more reasonable than the one it rejects or modifies.

What seems to be more advantageous to the “agency” which in this case is Orange County is to have a finding be a conclusion of law.  A conclusion of law is within the board’s determination, not a finding of fact.

A very important sentence in the definition is this, “The strict standards imposed by F.S. §120.57(1)(l) and supporting case law are designed to promote and protect the due process rights of those substantially affected by agency action.“.  This comes into play when we see who the Appellants are in the case with the FIFTH DISTRICT COURT case.

It is important to note who the appellants are in the Recommended Order vs the appellants in the case with the Fifth District Court.


In the case with the fifth circuit court they started out as

and are now:

Why are SEERINA FARRELL, ARIEL HORNER, MARJORIE HOLT, RONALD BROOKE, and KELLY SEMRAD not part of the lawsuit anymore?  this is explained below.
This is related to page 84 where it says, “278. To have standing to challenge or support a plan amendment, a person must be an “affected person,” as defined in section 163.3184(1)(a).”   The judge determined this, “279. Both the Individual Petitioners and Petitioner Corner Lakes, are affected persons within the meaning of the statute.

This is also very important and comes into play with the decision by the cabinet.  “283. The “fairly debatable” standard, which provides deference to the local government’s disputed decision, applies to any challenge filed by an affected person. Therefore, Petitioners bear the burden of proving beyond fair debate that the challenged Plan Amendments are not in compliance. This means that “if reasonable persons could differ as to its propriety,” a plan amendment must be upheld.

The judge decided this, “285. Based on the foregoing Findings of Fact, Petitioners proved beyond fair debate that the Plan Amendments are internally inconsistent…

Also, “286. Petitioners did not prove, beyond fair debate, internal inconsistency between the Plan Amendments and any of the other goals, objectives, and policies cited by Petitioners.

However in the conclusion it states, “291. For the reasons stated above, the Petitioner has proven beyond fair debate that the Plan Amendments are not in compliance with the specified provisions of chapter 163, Florida Statutes.

And the final recommendation in  the document states, “Based on the foregoing Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, it is RECOMMENDED that the Administration Commission enter a final order determining that Orange County Comprehensive Plan Amendments 2015-2-P-FLUE-1 and 2015-2-A-5-1, adopted by Ordinance 2016-17 on July 12, 2016, are not “in compliance,” as that term is defined in section 163.3184(1)(b), Florida Statutes.

8/22/2017: Orange county Board of Commissioners meeting – Discussion Agenda: III.A.1:

The discussion lasted 44 minutes and can be  found on the Orange County website here:

Commissioner Bonilla brought the idea forward to have the board stop the process and rescind the text amendment.  During the first discussion the thought was to let the process continue for several reason.  Attorney Jeff Newton was asked to research the question and come back with clarification.

Later in the session under the title, “III.C.2. Discussion Agenda – Utilities Department” Jeff Newton explained the position of the County.  The recommendation was to continue in the process and allow the case to go to the Florida Cabinet.


Begins on page 40 of the transcript.

On August 11, 2016, Petitioners filed a petition with DOAH challenging the Plan Amendments, and they assert: One, internal inconsistency with the County’s Comprehensive Plan. Two, that the amendments were not based on relevant and appropriate data. And, three, that the amendments did not provide meaningful and predictable guidelines for more detailed land development regulations. Additionally, Petitioner Ronald Brooke also challenged the amendments as not effectively discouraging urban sprawl. Any of the above would render the Plan Amendments out of compliance with Chapter 163, part two, of Florida Statutes.

the Commission may not reject or modify the Administrative Law Judge’s findings of fact unless the Commission first determines, from a review of the entire record, and states with particularity in the order, that the findings of fact were not based on competent substantial evidence, or that the proceedings in which the finds were based did not comply with the essential requirements of the law.  Therefore, the findings of fact can only be modified or rejected if they are not based upon competent substantial evidence, or the proceedings did not comply with the essential requirements of law. Competent substantial evidence means such evidence as will establish a substantial basis of fact from which the fact at issue can be reasonably inferred.

The experts in this case who testified all agree that the Comprehensive Plan does not define urban development, and that the County has discretion to determine the characteristics of urban development within its jurisdiction… The ALJ finds that the experts are correct that the Comprehensive Plan contains no glossary definition of urban development, which would determine the specific threshold at which residential densities would become urban. ALJ finds Petitioner proved that the Plan Amendments meet two indicators of urban sprawl, then further found that the Lake Pickett guiding principals meet four of the criterion that determine that the plan discourages urban sprawl. Petitioners therefore did not prove that the Plan Amendments failed to discourage urban sprawl.

the Commission, in its final order, may reject or modify the conclusions of law over which it has substantive jurisdiction. When rejecting or modifying such conclusion of law the Commission must state with particularity its reasons for rejecting or modifying such conclusion of law, and must make a finding that its substituted conclusion of law is as, or more, reasonable than that which was rejected or modified. Rejection or modification of conclusions of law may not form the basis for rejection or modification of findings of fact. Therefore, the conclusions of law can be modified and rejected only if the Commission states with particularity its reason for modifying and rejecting, and the Commission makes a finding that its substituted conclusions of law are better than that of the ALJ.

The Petitioners did not prove beyond fair debate that the Plan Amendments do not react appropriately to data to the extent required during the Comprehensive Plan amendment process. Finally, the ALJ concluded that the Petitioners did not prove their meaningful and predictable standards argument. The ultimate conclusion in the recommended order is that Petitioner has proven, beyond fair debate, that the Plan Amendments are not in compliance with the Comprehensive Plan.

See page 48-52 for more on what the legal finding were…

Several people are here today who may speak in support of Petitioners, and one of those individuals is Orange County Commissioner Emily Bonilla. To alleviate any confusion, and with all due respect to Commissioner Bonilla, I need to make it clear to you that she speaks on behalf of herself, not for the County, or for the Board of County Commissioners.

pg 55 if an ALJ labels something as a finding of fact, but, in fact, it really is a conclusion of law, this Commission is not bound by how the ALJ labeled that matter.

the ALJ correctly states that the County’s Comprehensive Plan doesn’t define urban development. The ALJ also correctly stated that the County has the discretion to determine the characteristics of urban development within its jurisdiction.

Attorney Maciver repeated  said to  the people there for public comment, “Again, I apologize for the nature of being a broken record, but I have to remind everybody, the Administration Commission here sits today as quasi judicial body. They are not actually weighing whether this is a good proposal, or a bad proposal, but only whether the ALJ was correct in her findings.

Attorney Maciver again repeated, “Commissioners, again I have to remind you that you are limited to reviewing the things that are in the record during this proceeding today. 

And, additionally, while you are, of course, all elected executive high level officials, you are not sitting in that capacity today. You are sitting as a quasi judicial body, who is reviewing the facts and the law before you.

Saathoff, “Many opponents of The Grow, including several that spoke here today, live in adjacent or nearby  projects, some of which are built at much higher density than The Grow.

After the public comment, attorney Maciver said this, “the Final Order shall include an explicit ruling on each exception, but an agency need not rule on an exception that does not clearly identify the disputed portion of the recommended order, by page number or paragraph, that does not identify the legal basis for the exception, or that does not include appropriate and specific citation to the record … Florida law provides a Plan Amendment shall be determined to be in compliance if the local government’s determination of compliance is fairly debatable.   The fairly debate standard of review is a highly deferential standard, requiring approval of a planning action if reasonable persons could differ to its propriety.

“GOVERNOR SCOTT: Can we go back to the standard again? Just tell us again the standard.
ATTORNEY MACIVER: Yes, Governor. The standard for the Plan Amendments, if the local government’s determination– if they are of compliance, they are fairly debatable.  A fairly debatable standard of review is a highly
deferential standard requiring approval of a planning action, if reasonable persons could differ as to its propriety.  So, if there is a reasonable disagreement, or if there is a side of the debate that is not clearly, clearly outside the realm of reality, then you have to side with the County Commission.

GOVERNOR SCOTT: So, it doesn’t– it doesn’t matter the merits. We have to– if it’s debatable, we have to go with the County Commission? 
ATTORNEY MACIVER: Correct, Governor.  If there is– if there– if the parties have both put up two sides– one way that I could put this is, let’s say that we are putting sky-scrapers in a rural area. That would be so clearly on its face not in compliance, that you would– there would be no reasonable debate about that.  On the other hand, if we were putting one farm house in the middle of 20 acres, that would be clear. For things that are in the middle, if there is
debate about whether or not that is, or is not, in compliance, you are bound, by case law, to side with the determination of the County Commission.
ATTORNEY GENERAL BONDI: You want me to try to simplify that? Okay. And, again, every time we have one of these, I don’t believe these should be coming before us, for that reason. These are things that just should not– these local disputes should not come before the Florida Cabinet. We have to keep in mind though that this is a legal question, and there are specific standards of review. Therefore, what was just explained to you was that because it’s fairly debatable it requires deference to be given to the County Commission, who heard all of this. Who voted. We’ve heard it wasn’t unanimous. We have a member here whose against it. But, they did vote a certain way. And, that’s what the law requires.
GOVERNOR SCOTT: Why do we hear these cases?
ATTORNEY GENERAL BONDI: Good question, Governor. I think we need to change the law on that. We say this
every time we get these– look at one.

The County Commissioners’ finding that the project is rural is within the realm of possible and reasonable interpretations and is fairly debatable.

The County’s asserted interpretation of the Plan Amendments as in compliance is subject to the fairly debatable standard of review. That means that if reasonable people could disagree about the interpretation, both the ALJ and this Commission are
required to uphold the policy choice of the County’s duly elected legislative officials.

The effect on the ultimate conclusion, if the Commission finds the matter of law that the ALJ erred by finding the proposals constitute urban use, the ALJ’s ultimate conclusion that the proposed amendments created an internal inconsistency by directing urban development to the rural service area would be reversed.

My analysis: Paragraphs 118 and 122 are conclusions of law, and have been mislabeled findings of fact. … Policy decisions by the County about how to encourage urban strategies, consistent with Future Land Use Element Goal 2, are subject to the fairly debatable standard. Because reasonable people could disagree about this policy decision, the ALJ was required to defer to the County.

Policy decisions by the County about how to encourage urban strategies, consistent with Future Land Use Element Goal 2, are subject to the fairly debatable standard. Because reasonable people could disagree about this policy decision, the ALJ was required to defer to the County.

3/30/2018: NOTICE OF APPEAL:

The link to the PDF document is below and is a reiteration of the original lawsuit and also summarized the Florida Cabinet meeting.


Appellant ADELE SIMONS owns and lives on a two (2) acre naturally wooded lot, within the Rural land use designation, that abuts the subject Lake Pickett land use amendment, and which is currently surrounded by large parcels mostly ten acres in size. She would be adversely impacted by the significant increase in traffic and loss of substantial surrounding wooded areas (including wildlife habitat) to the urban development that would displace the surrounding rural lands as a result of the amendments. ”  I am adversely affected.

Appellant ADELE SIMONS owns and lives on a two (2) acre naturally wooded lot, within the Rural land use designation, that abuts the subject Lake Pickett land use amendment, and which is currently surrounded by large parcels mostly ten acres in size. She would be adversely impacted by the significant increase in traffic and loss of substantial surrounding wooded areas (including wildlife habitat) to the urban development that would displace the surrounding rural lands as a result of the amendments. ”  I am adversely affected.

Andrade specifically testified as to his duty to protect the interests of the HOA residents, and testified that the residents of Corner Lakes believed that the Plan Amendments would destroy the rural character of their community.  Appellant through its representative at the hearing, the President of the HOA (Richard Andrade) testified that it will be adversely affected by the loss of rural character, the loss of open space, adverse effects on Corner Lakes residents rural lifestyles including a reduction of associated wildlife observation opportunities in the neighborhood, increased traffic and potentially increased  police/fire/EMT response times caused by the increase in density and corresponding increase in population prior to introduction of urban services to the area that would serve the new urban development allowed by the proposed Plan Amendments in the Rural Service Area.  ”  This is a joke as Corner Lakes is urban.



3/19/2019: Lake Pickett Appeal update

Hi everyone On March 19th the Petitioners will be in Daytona to hear what the three appellate judges will say. We don’t know what the outcome will be but we remain confident. It has been a long and tiring Road and we could Not have gotten this far without the support of this community. I also would like to thank our government officials who have 100% stuck behind the people and fought for us every step of the way. Rene Plasencia Carlos Smith Linda Stewart The people in this area have been concerned and have voiced their opinion’s to our local government and every time they shut us out and our voice did not matter. These representatives have stuck their neck out even when it wasn’t popular and stood by us and fought with us. The town of preservation is a hot topic and separate from the issue that the petitioners are fighting for in Daytona. Some like it, some don’t like it, and some need to know more about it before they will make a decision. There has been plenty of talk about it in University Estates. The other communities haven’t seen it because it’s been a exclusive to University Estates. As we have said many times this is in the infantile state and there is a huge possibility that it will not make it to even be put on a ballot for a vote by the people. In the last few days there have been those that have painted the above representatives in a very bad light and have attempted to ruin their reputations. That is unfortunate but it is their prerogative. I remember when our commissioner was Ted Edwards. I don’t have to tell you about how he treated the people and what he did to the people and I don’t have to tell you that the People’s voice meant nothing to him. You may not like the thought of A municipality or a town, but don’t take it out on the representatives that are trying to fight for the people and give them options. If there are better solutions out there we are all ears. Remember there’s just options and if you don’t like them that’s OK. We have to start somewhere to make sure that the peoples voices is heard which is why the petitioners have fought so hard and continue to fight against the terrible text amendment that our local government literally approved while packed rooms of people begged them until 2 o’clock in the morning not to do it. We the petitioners will continue to fight for the people. When the petitioners go to the appellate court on the 19th I’m not sure how fast we will get a decision. We have been told that It could take them up to a year to make a decision. We are hoping that it’s sooner rather than later but as soon as we hear anything we will let you know. Unfortunately due to some health issues I will not be able to join my fellow petitioners but I will be there in spirit and I will be praying.

This has really been a difficult road but we have prevailed over and over again. Look at this picture from the attorney who represent the petitioners and the ATTORNEYS Who represent the developers and the landowners. There is only be 20 minutes allowed for each side to speak. Our one attorney will speak for 20 minutes and their multiple attorneys will share 20 minutes. That’s a lot of attorneys for a couple of petitioners

Here is our group and our attorney

Links to Important Documents Below



Orange County Board of County Commissioner meeting

BCC meeting: 8/11/2017

  • http://netapps.ocfl.net/Mod/meetings/1 
  • On the left click on 2017 meetings
  • Then on the right III.A.1. Discussion Agenda – Commissioner’s Report.
  • Also on the right III.C.2. Discussion Agenda – Utilities Department.



tarts on page 40


The hearing starts at 2:07:00


Search String:


NOTICE OF APPEAL:  3/30/2018

DISMISS :  6/4/2018

Appellees’ Joint Motion to Dismiss filed May 21, 2018 is denied: 6/19/2018



REPLY BRIEF: 10/25/2018

Transcript May 7, 2018 Administration Commission (Governor Cabinet): 10/26/2018


GoFundMe set up by Appellants to pay for legal fees:

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Preservation: The name proposed for a new town in east Orange seeking to preserve the rural way of life

This post is to track the progress on this proposed new town.

Map of Preservation

Map of Preservation


In the paper today was this article about a new town being proposed called Preservation that seeks to preserve the rural way of life. Looking at the map I have some questions:

Why are subdivisions between UCF and the Econ included in the map? These subdivisions are not rural, they are urban and are inside the Urban Service Area.

Why doesn’t the line on the map follow the Econ?

Why are some rural areas like Bithlo and the Lake Pickett Rural Settlement as well as Wedgefield not included in this town?

It seems odd that a town that is dedicated to preserving the rural area includes urban HOAs and subdivisions?


Rene Plasencia files to charter new Town of Preservation in Orange County

Representative Rene Plasencia proposed Bill HB-1087:

Link to the bill itself:

Link to Florida House of Representatives:

Link to list of Representatives:
(321) 383-5151

Representative Plasencia email:
Capitol Office: (850) 717-5050
District Office: (321) 383-5151

Representative Smith email:
Capitol Office: (850) 717-5049
District Office: (407) 681-5433

Facebook page:

3/1/2019: Letter to Representative Plasencia

From: rj@rjmueller.net <rj@rjmueller.net>
Sent: Saturday, March 2, 2019 8:58 AM
To: ‘Rene.Plasencia@myfloridahouse.gov’ <Rene.Plasencia@myfloridahouse.gov>
Subject: Bill HB-1087 – Town of Preservation

Representative Plasencia,

Thank you for your service on the Florida House of Representatives.  I have always been a supporter and was very happy to hear you won the election to District 50.

Would it be possible to meet to discuss this town of Preservation?  I have some viewpoints I would like to express in person.

I read in the Orlando Sentinel yesterday that you are sponsoring a bill (HB-1087) to create the town of Preservation.  I am an avid supporter of the preservation of the rural area and have actively fought against the Grow as well as Sustany and believe the rural area should stay rural.  I wish the residents who are in the legal battle against the Lake Pickett Text Amendment well.

But with that said, I feel the people who live in the rural area’s main concern is their way of life.  And rightly so; we all feel this way about where we live.  This is evidenced in why and how SOC was formed.  It was formed to fight against the developments in the Lake Pickett area by people who live and are most affected by those developments.  I was a member of SOC at the very beginning and was fighting because of the traffic issues but left when I realized the rest of the members were more concerned about way of life than traffic.  I live in University Estates which is right next to UCF in the Urban Service Area so I am not directly affected by these developments.  My house as shown on the map below is in the farthest top corner of the map right alongside McCulloch Road.  How I am affected is the traffic that streams past my house every day on McCulloch Road.  Traffic and sprawl are my highest concerns regarding the developments but to the people in the rural area, traffic is the least of their concerns.  So while we all want the same thing, the priority of why is different.

I live inside the Urban Service Area alongside all of the HOAs and subdivisions circled in red on the map.  Why are subdivisions between UCF and the Econ included in the map? These subdivisions are not rural, they are urban and are inside the Urban Service Area.  Why doesn’t the line on the map follow the Econ?  Why are some rural areas like Bithlo and the Lake Pickett Rural Settlement as well as Wedgefield not included in this town?  It seems odd that a town that is dedicated to preserving the rural area includes urban HOAs and subdivisions and not rural comumunities?

map showing where I live

map showing where I live

The main priority, preserving the way of life, is so important to the people who live in the rural area that the people who live there are actually fighting against any improvements to the roadways that might help the people who live between UCF and the Econ in the rural area.  I am trying not to make this email too long but there are reasons why I know this to be true.

I read that the town has 17,000 people in it.  How many of those 17,000 live between UCF and the Econ river inside the Urban Service Area.  I would guess more than live in the rural area as most of it is wetlands.  I am afraid that this town will actually be working against the people who live in the urban service area yet contributing more to it’s welfare than the people who live in the rural area.

And then what if I do not want to be included in this town.  I am perfectly happy with Orange County services and at this time unless there is some very compelling reason do not want to be part of this town.

Would it be possible to meet and discuss this so you can fully understand all points of view.

Again, thank you so much for what you do.  You are the best.

Have a great day.

RJ Mueller

3/1/2019: Heard that perhaps the reason this town needs the HOAs is because of a 1.5 persons per acre quota

3/1/2019: My Post on NextDoor:

Just reading the beginning of the bill listed here I have serious concerns. Here are some excerpts from the 39 page bill. Where will this money come from to hire a mayor, 5 council members, city employees, legal expenses and so on? How will our services be impacted and what ordinances will be placed on those of us who live in the urban service area to promote a rural character?

If it wasn’t for the Sentinel article, none of us would be aware of this and it would have slide through unaware. Why didn’t the architects of this bill come to our HOA and ask if we wanted to be part of this town? This feels very wrong.

Excerpts from the Bill:

It reads: ” providing for the composition of the council, eligibility, terms, duties, compensation, and reimbursement of expenses of council members; providing for a mayor and vice mayor;”

“FORM OF GOVERNMENT.—The town shall have a council manager form of government, with the council to consist of five town council (“council”) members elected by the town at large. The council shall constitute the governing body of the town, with the duties and responsibilities hereinafter provided. The council shall appoint a town manager to be the chief administrative officer of the town who shall serve at the pleasure of the council.”

“The council may determine the initial annual salary of the mayor and council members by ordinance”

“The mayor and council members shall receive reimbursement for council-approved expenses in accordance with applicable law, or as may be otherwise provided by ordinance, for authorized travel and per diem expenses incurred in the performance of their official duties.”

There are employees such as: “providing for appointment of a town manager, town attorney, and town clerk”. Also, “providing for the establishment of town departments, agencies, personnel, and boards”

“providing for the adoption of an annual budget”

“INITIAL EXPENSES.—The council, in order to provide moneys for the expenses and support of the town, shall have the power to borrow money necessary for the operation of government until such time as a budget is adopted and revenues are raised in accordance with the provisions of this charter”

On page 4 it reads, “This act shall take effect upon approval by a majority vote of those qualified electors residing within the corporate limits of the proposed town as described in section 3 voting in a referendum election to be called by the Supervisor of Elections of Orange County to be held in 2019, in accordance with the current provisions of law relating to elections.”

“including promotion of the town’s rural character” We don’t live in the rural area and our HOA has no rural character?

“FIRST ELECTION: TERMS OF OFFICE.—The first election under this charter will be held in 2019”

“INITIAL ELECTION OF MAYOR AND COUNCIL MEMBERS.—The Orange County Supervisor of Elections shall call a special election for the election of the four council members and the mayor to be held in 2019”

“The council shall adopt ordinances and resolutions required to effect the transition”
What ordinances will this town focused on preserving the rural area impose on our HOA?

“REVENUE SOURCE TRANSITION.—Until otherwise modified by the council, all municipal taxes and fees, including communication services taxes, imposed within the town boundaries by the county as the municipal government for unincorporated Orange County, which taxes and fees are in effect on the date of adoption of this charter, shall continue at the same rate and under the same conditions as if those taxes and fees had been adopted and assessed by the town”.
How will the council modify taxes and fees?

Unless someone can answer where all this money is going to come from to fund this town and how the HOA I live in benefits, I wish this town luck but would like to respectfully opt out.


University Estates:  Are you aware you may soon be living in a town called Preservation

University Estates map

University Estates map

A couple days ago I read an article in the Sentinel saying there was a new town called Preservation planned in East Orange County and a bill was filed in Tallahassee by Representative Plasencia on 2/26/2019.  If voted on by the voters who live in the map area and this passes, everyone in the map area is automatically in the town.  The vote will be on a referendum at the end of this year, 2019.

I was surprised to see University Estates in the zone on the map and am wondering why we were not given the opportunity to have a say in whether we want to be in this map area and why we had to find out a bill was filed  by reading it in the Sentinel.

This is serious business, folks.  How do you feel about this?  Do you want to be part of this town?

I will be posting a poll shortly asking if you want to be part of this town.  NextDoor Polls are anonymous and not even the poll author can’t see individual votes so your anonymity is protected.

Everything I know about this so far can be found in the link below.  I will be tracking this issue on my website and posting to my Facebook page as well as NextDoor as this continues.

Preservation: The name proposed for a new town in east Orange seeking to preserve the rural way of life

Feasibility study:

Not True:

Line 238:  Page 7: Residents within these boundaries expressed the greatest sustained interest in incorporation, in both petitions and town hall  meetings. The proposed town’s citizens share the common goals of demarcating urban and rural areas, preserving the rural culture of the area and its natural areas, and desiring more local control of government services and a greater return on their tax dollar investment.

3/4/2019: Public Notice of Public Hearing:

On 2/28/2019 there was a public hearing.  No one that I know was notified.  Where was this posted.  This email was sent to Commissioner Bonilla under a formal public record request.

From: rj@rjmueller.net <rj@rjmueller.net>
Sent: Tuesday, March 5, 2019 3:12 PM
To: ‘district5@ocfl.net’ <district5@ocfl.net>
Cc: ‘Mayor@ocfl.net’ <Mayor@ocfl.net>
Subject: Town of Preservation

Commissioner Bonilla,

Please consider this a formal public record request.

Would you kindly provide the minutes from a meeting held on 1/28/2019 t the Orange County Administrative Building as referenced in this document attached to House Bill HB-1087.  Also provide information on the notification that was sent out for this public hearing and who was notified.

In addition, please provide documentation on the delegation members who unanimously approved this bill.


RJ Mueller

notice of meeting

notice of meeting

3/7/2019 NextDoor Post:

Title; Town of Preseervation – public hearing

According to the document in the link below, a public hearing was held on 1/28/2019.

Did anyone get any notice or read abut this public hearing anywhere?

It says the location was Orange County Administration Bldg, 201 Rosalind Ave, Orlando, FL.

It also says the “delegation” conducted the hearing on the subject of the bill.


3/7/2019: Letter to Plasencia and Smith

From: rj@rjmueller.net <rj@rjmueller.net>
Sent: Thursday, March 7, 2019 7:15 AM
To: ‘Plasencia, Rene’ <Rene.Plasencia@myfloridahouse.gov>; ‘Carlos.Smith@myfloridahouse.gov’ <Carlos.Smith@myfloridahouse.gov>
Subject: Bill HB-1087 – Town of Preservation

Representative Plasencia and Representative Smith,

This email is in reference to HB-1087 that you are cosponsoring.

At this time, I am in opposition to the bill for several reasons.

  • This bill came as a complete surprise to most of us in the map area.  I found out about it reading the Orlando Sentinel.
  • I live in University Estates, an HOA next to UCF as do many people in HOAs and urban subdivisions between UCF and the Econ.  This town is being formed to protect the rural area.  Why are urban HOAs included?
  • There are several rural communities such as Lake Pickett RS, Bithlo RS, Cypress Lakes and Wedgefield that are in the rural area.  Why are they not included?  A friend who lives in Lake Pickett RS told me they were never notified.  That applies to just about everyone in this map area.
  • I posted on NextDoor and this came as a complete surprise to most and met with much resistance.
  • In the feasibility study it states, “Residents within these boundaries expressed the greatest sustained interest in incorporation, in both petitions and town hall meetings.”  This is not true.  Our community of University Estates was never informed and never had the opportunity to express interest or express opposition.  I did attend a meeting at River Walk Church that was not well attended.  Below is a picture I took at that meeting on May 20th, 2018.  For a town of 17,000 people one would expect a packed house.

    SOC meeting for new town

    SOC meeting for new town

  • There was another meeting a few months ago at a school that I could not attend but did drive by at 5pm when the meeting started and there were very few cars in the lot.
  • In the documentation with the bill it says there was a public hearing.  How was this meeting noticed and to whom?   And who is the delegation and who are the delegation members?  The first I heard about this public hearing was reading the Local Bill Certification Form.  Who represented University Estates in this delegation?
  • I just put out another post on NextDoor asking if anyone was aware of this public hearing.  I suspect very few.

I would ask that this Bill be tabled until such time as proper notification is given to all involved and a real public hearing held on the “subject of the bill” as stated above.  I try to keep my ear close to the ground and if I did not hear about this until I read it in the Sentinel, I can only think that most people are completely unaware.

There are 9,000 people in this same map area on NextDoor.  It would have been very easy and zero cost to inform the public of this hearing.  It feels as though the “delegation” did not want the public to know about this public hearing and were satisfying the requirements of a public hearing.

I am not versed on the House process so could someone please call me and explain the steps this bill will go through and when so I am given the opportunity to express my feelings to the appropriate parties.  I do see this at the bottom of the bill but don’t understand when the Bill will come before these committees.

Bill History

Bill History

I would very much like to discuss this matter with each of you at your earliest convenience.

Have a wonderful day.


RJ Mueller

3/7/2019:  Followup email to Representatives

From: rj@rjmueller.net <rj@rjmueller.net>
Sent: Thursday, March 7, 2019 7:47 AM
To: ‘Plasencia, Rene’ <Rene.Plasencia@myfloridahouse.gov>; ‘Carlos.Smith@myfloridahouse.gov’ <Carlos.Smith@myfloridahouse.gov>
Subject: Bill HB-1087 – Town of Preservation

Representative Plasencia and Representative Smith,

One more thought.  The documents reference a delegation behind this bill.

My question is who represented University Estates and why were we not informed?

There are 374 homes in University Estates and 437 people signed up on NextDoor from University Estates.  Below is my post today asking if anyone knew about this public hearing and who the delegation is and who represented University Estates.  It is free and easy to post  to NextDoor.  This would have been the perfect mechanism to notify us of this public hearing but as far as I know it never happened.

NextDoor post asking about public hearing

NextDoor post asking about public hearing

Representative Smith, you are University Estates representative and cosigner of this bill.

Would it be possible to speak with both of you on this issue.

Have a wonderful day.


RJ Mueller

3/7/2019: Town of Preservation -talked to House Representative Plasencia

I spoke to House Representative Plasencia who filed the bill to add HB-1087 to a referendum at the end of the year. If passed those in the map area will be part of the town of Preservation.
He told me that once Bill HB-1087 was filed, it would go through the process. He said it might not get heard by the committees but if it does it should pass through and go to legislature for a vote.
He told me that if the legislature passes HB-1087 this will be added to the referendum for a vote by the people inside the map area.
He also told me that Save Orange County (SOC) is the originator of the Bill.
Do you want to be part of this town called Preservation?
I have a call in to Representative Smith who is our representative as he is the cosigner of this bill.

3/8/2019: Town of Preservation -the route HB-1087 will take through Legislature

If you haven’t heard yet, UE might be part of a town called Preservation if a Bill passes through the House and is passed by voters in the map area at the end of the year.

At the bottom of Bill HB-1087 is the Bill History. It looks like this. If anyone understands how this work, please feel free to explain. It looks like the Bill was filed on 2/26/2019 and will have to make it’sway through these committees before being voted on in Legislature.

I am trying to understand how to track when it will come to these committees. Representative Plasencia told me it will be scheduled but may never make it to the committees but how will we know if it gets scheduled and when it will be heard by the committee?

Is there a way to track these Bills other than having to look at this history?


3/10/2019: Poll posted on NextDoor:

Do you want to be in the town called Preservation?

NO, I do not want University Estates included in the town of Preservation

YES, I want University Estates included in the town of Preservation

I DID NOT KNOW Bill, HB-1087, was filed and do not know enough about it to make a decision but at this time I DO NOT WANT University Estates to be included in the town of Preservation

I DID NOT KNOW Bill, HB-1087, was filed but I WANT the voters in the town map area to decide by popular vote if University Estates is in the town of Preservation

I KNEW Bill, HB-1087, was filed and do not know enough about it to make a decision but at this time I DO NOT WANT University Estates to be included in the town of Preservation

I KNEW Bill, HB-1087, was filed and I WANT the voters in the town map area to decide by popular vote if University Estates is in the town of Preservation


This poll is anonymous.

On February 26th, 2019, Representative Plasencia sponsored Bill HB-1087 that reads,

Orange County: Creating the Town of Preservation, Florida; provides charter; requires referendum.

Effective Date: only upon approval by a majority vote of those qualified electors residing within the area described in section 3 voting in a referendum which shall be called by the Orange County Supervisor of Elections to be held in the fall of 2019

What this means:

It means that if House Bill, HB-1087, is passed in legislature and if the voters in the map area vote in favor, University Estates will no longer be in unincorporated Orange County with an Orlando address but will be in the town of Preservation.

The town will have a mayor and commissioners, town employees and a budget to cover salaries, expenses and costs to maintain the town paid by the new residents of the town of Preservation.

Next Steps are determined by the outcome of the poll.

3/9/2019: Who’s backing the “berg” called Preservation

Here is a quote from this article,
“Now backers of the berg, led by leaders of the Save Orange County environmental preservation group, have submitted a feasibility study to Orange County.  Plasencia, the Orlando Republican whose House District 50 includes the entire area, has taken up their cause in the Florida House.”

According to the article it is Save Orange County whose motto on the website says, “Help us preserve rural Orange County”.

The last sentence is wrong.  Plasencia’s district does not include the entire area, instead it starts at 419 (Chuluota Road) and goes east to the ocean so the Lake Pickett properties and the HOAs are not even in his district.  University Estates state representative is district 49 represented by Smith.

Representative District Map

Representative District Map

Why does an organization whose motto is to preserve the rural area want an urban HOA, University Estates?

Rene Plasencia files to charter new Town of Preservation in Orange County

3/10/2019: HB-1087: Preservation: Taxes? Fire and Rescue?

Will UE property taxes stay the same?

This easy to follow chart on the Seminole County website says they will increase.  But just as alarming for us in UE is fire and rescue.

Note:  Orange County millage rate chart is harder to follow but if you want to dive into it, it is listed here:

In every city in Seminole County property taxes are higher yet SOC is telling us they will be less?  A note at the bottom of the chart reads, “City residents must pay for the city millage as well as the millage for the county. They may also include additional assessments depending on the city.”

Additional assessments?  What is that?

Fire and Rescue:

What if this town decides to go it alone on fire and rescue?  I suspect that is the what N/A means in  the “Fire” column.  We have a fire station a half a mile from our community and we see fire trucks and EMT vehicles in our community.  What if Preservation decides to not use Orange County for fire and rescue and decides to build their own fire stations out in  the rural area.  Will we get fire and rescue from a fire station  miles away instead of a half mile from our house.

Here’s another article talking about Orlando city taxes increasing 17.7% in 2014.

The question you have to ask yourself is if you want to trust what you are being told or look at solid facts and decide for yourself.

Too many questions.

Then there’s

Seminole County Millage Rates

Seminole County Millage Rates

Orange County Millage Rates Sample Chart

Orlando raises taxes 17.7% in 2014

3/11/2019: HB-1087:  Who took down the signs?

As some of you know I posted a poll to gauge sentiment on HB-1087 in our community.  That post went up on NextDoor at 8 pm last night.

In the afternoon I took a trip to Home Depot and bought a couple of blank yard signs and a sheet of foam board.  I cut the foam board up and made signs that read,

“HB-1087: Town of Preservation
Vote on NextDoor”

I wrote on the two yard signs

“HB-1087: Town of Preservation
Do you want be in the town of Preservation
Take the Poll on NextDoor.com”

All 9 of the foam board signs were tie wraped to the village stop signs and the yard signs were tie wrapped to the stop sign at the front entrance.

My intention was to get maximum participation from all residents so we had a good understanding of what people wanted.  Who would not want that?

Low and Behold when I went to work at 8 am the sings at Georgetown, Yorkshire and the front entrance were gone.  Who would do that?

Makes a person wonder if someone within our community doesn’t want us to know about the poll.  It also makes you wonder if this is the same tactic used when this bill was filed.

It would appear one of our residents wants us left in the dark on this one.  I seriously doubt someone from another community came in here and took the signs down.

HB-1087 – Preservation – The lawsuit against Orange County

Why is this lawsuit significant to the town of Preservation?

Some of you may be aware of the lawsuit against Orange County filed by several homeowners which is now in the Fifth District Court of Appeal to be heard a week from today on 3/19/2019 in Daytona Beach.

Everything you want to know about this can be read on my post here: http://fixmyroadway.com/?p=3820

If you follow NextDoor you have undoubtedly seen posts asking for money to fund the lawsuit.  The lawsuit is to reverse a Text Amendment that allows higher density development in the rural area.  Thousands of dollars has been spent on this lawsuit and it seems to be a high stakes game.  It has been posted on NextDoor that the developer is suing the appellants for legal fees based on the Governor’s ruling in Tallahassee on 3/7/2018.  It would seem that whoever wins the lawsuit has the right to sue the other side for legal fees.  All eyes need to be on the outcome of this hearing a week from now because it just might determine the future of the rural area.

The balance this town will have to juggle is preservation of the rural area while honoring the property rights of landowners. Will our community be dragged into lawsuits filed by landowners because we are part of this town?  Corner Lakes Estates is an HOA in the rural area next door to the land slated for The Grow.  Emily Bonilla was on the Board of Directors in this HOA.  Corner Lakes Estates is one of the appellants in this lawsuit.

This is very complicated and has a great deal of history behind it but what you should know is that while we all want the rural area protected, this lawsuit that was initiated on 8/17/2019 put a halt to a regional transportation study that was in progress (http://fixmyroadway.com/?p=3533).  This study would have given Orange County the blueprint of a plan to fix our traffic issues.  Bids were out for a company to conduct the study and the $250,000 study was fully funded through the INVEST program (http://fixmyroadway.com/?p=1400).  It was put on full stop and has been on full stop because of this lawsuit.  If it had finished it would have been completed ages ago.

Do the backers of this town have any interest in improving the roadways to alleviate the current traffic issues?  Improving Lake Pickett, South Tanner, North Tanner, McCulloch, Hwy 50 and building the 408 extension might mean more cars on the rural roadways.  What do you think?

Is our current commissioner who lives on Lake Pickett in the rural area fighting to improve the roadways.  She might be but when I asked this question twice the answer given is “things are going on in the background” (http://fixmyroadway.com/?p=3367) so I am left looking at past actions.  In a public meeting she voted against the 408 extension (http://fixmyroadway.com/?p=3578) that will extend the 408 out to 520 in 3 phases.  She proposed the Richard Crotty Parkway (http://fixmyroadway.com/?p=2000) in a public meeting but only to Bonneville Road.  Why not all the way to N. Tanner?  Her focus is on preserving the rural area as she has said time and time again she was elected by the people living in the rural area.

What will this new town do to improve the lifestyle of the people who live between UCF and the Econ River?  We, who live in the HOAs, are not here to protect only the way of life of those living in the rural area.  Our primary concern is what effect will this town have on the way of life of those of us living in HOAs between UCF and the Econ.  Those who are forming this town need to consider this.

3/12/2019: HB-1087 – email to University Estates Board of Directors

From: rj@rjmueller.net <rj@rjmueller.net>
Sent: Tuesday, March 12, 2019 7:07 PM
To: ‘David Pugh’ <dpugh@sentrymgt.com>
Subject: HB-1087 – Town of Preservation


Please pass this email on to the Board of Directors.

Dear Board of Directors,

By now you have heard of House Bill HB-1087 and are probably cringing as you read this email.  Believe me, I am too because like you I wanted none of this and wish it would go away but it was brought to our doorstep.  So as a community and all neighbors how do we deal with this?  We were going along fine until it came to light that we have been added to the map of this new town of Preservation.  I don’t think any of us disputes the formation of the town in the rural area but many do not think it is a good fit for University Estates.  We need to come together as a community, and I hope you will agree that this is a very important issue that happens very rarely and should come before the homeowners for a vote.  Everything you didn’t want to know about this can be found here: http://fixmyroadway.com/?p=4306

I would like to request a discussion on House Bill HB-1087 at the next board meeting on Thursday, March 21st at the clubhouse at 7 pm.  HB-1087 is the Bill that was filed to create a referendum on the ballot at the end of 2019 to include all those living within the town map area into the Town of Preservation.  University Estates is inside the town map area so if the referendum passes and the ballot passes, University will be in the Town of Preservation.

The purpose of this discussion is two-fold:

  1. First to request the board call a general meeting of the homeowners to establish a clear vote on this issue that is recorded in the minutes of University Estates.  This will end the discussion if University Estates wants to be included in the town of Preservation or not.
  2. If the vote is to be excluded from the town of Preservation, a second vote needs to take place to send an official letter from University Estates to the Founders Committee of the town of Preservation as well as all state representatives and senators involved.  The letter will request University Estates be excluded from the town of Preservation though a Bill amendment before the referendum comes to committees or a vote on the floor.

The goal is this:  if University Estates members vote NO to being included in this town then University Estates needs to be excluded from the town map area before a Legislative vote on the referendum.

I believe this falls well within the scope of the University Estates Board of Directors as it directly impacts every homeowner.  A meeting of the homeowners is the only fair way to address this issue.  An unofficial poll shows that 60% of 65 residents DO NOT WANT to be included in the town.  Another 24% checked they did not know about the Bill and DO NOT WANT to be included and 1% knew about the Bill but DO NOT WANT to be included.  That is an overwhelming percentage of 85% of 65 respondents that DO NOT WANT to be included in the Town of Preservation.

Some have questioned the poll as being hard to understand and others have said there are only 65 respondents out of 374 homes.  Calling a general meeting for a vote is the only fair way to let the people decide.  Here is the poll from NextDoor for reference.



This is one of those rare times the Board of Directors need to lead the community and ensure the members voice is heard and the well-being of the community is first and foremost.  I hope you will agree.

Have a great day.


RJ Mueller

3/12/2019: HB-1087: Preservation – Legislative Hearing held on Jan 28th, 2019

This is the video of the Legislative meeting held on Jan 28th, 2019.  It took a lot of digging to find this and a couple of public record requests.

Here’s what I went through.  The Bill had a document attached to it that had a question about the Delegation Meeting.  Handwritten was the date 1/28/2019 at Orange County Admin building.  I put in a public record request to our commissioner who forwarded it to the public records department.  They sent me the wrong info so going back and forth several times, they finally sent me the link to the video.

The video left me with many questions you can read below.  The biggest one is how could a Bill to create an entire town go un-noticed to the residents in the town map area and not a single person spoke in public comment?

Founders Committee, please answer the following questions based on this hearing:

  1. Who is the Founders Committee?  The speaker was introduced as “John Fauth of the Founders Committee”
  2. What is the relationship between the Founders Committee and Save Orange County as the speaker stated, “on behalf of Save Orange County”?
  3. Do we have any  Founder Committee members in University Estates?
  4. If we do, why didn’t University Estates know about this?
  5. If not, why wasn’t the HOA informed of the Bill and asked to decide for ourselves?
  6. How can a Bill be submitted for a vote to create an entire town without a single person speaking in public comment about it?
  7. What does he mean when the speaker says “the very first session with Mayor Demings”?  Did the Founders Committee meet with Mayor Demings?
  8. How many residents live between UCF and the Econ and are part of this town map area?
  9. How many residents live in the Rural area and are part of this town map area?
  10. What is the tax base of the area between UCF and the Econ?
  11. What is the tax base of the area east of the Econ?
  12. Why wasn’t the feasibility study submitted to University Estates long before this public meeting?
  13. Our commissioners primary focus is on preservation of the rural area.  She attribute her victory in the commission race to the people who live there.  Is she also involved in this town?
  14. The speaker says there is a budget surplus.  What would the budget be without the HOAs and communities between UCF and the Econ?
  15. When did Representative Smith know about this town Bill?
  16. When did Representative Plasencia know about this town Bill as he brought the Bill forward?
  17. When did Senator Stewart know about this town Bill?
  18. Representative Smith said, “for years and years and years this community has had their voice steamrolled, overridden, ignored by the representatives of the local Orange County Commission … The issues that are out there are unique to those residents.  Many of them are living east of the urban service line … they don’t get many of the services that come if you live within the urban service line”.  Is he talking mainly about the rural service area East of the Econ as the people inside the urban service are not lacking in services?
  19. The speaker said the ad valorem tax rate would go down by more than a mil.  Is that because the HOAs are included?  What would the ad valorem rate be without the HOAs?
  20. How does the speaker know the ad valorum rate will go down?
  21. The speaker said the Founders Committee “chose the boundary based on the highest support; there was really overwhelming support”.  How did this committee get the support of University Estates and the other HOAs and determine there was overwhelming support?
  22. The speaker said they “used a heat map generated from petitions and chose the boundaries that encompassed the areas where we had the most folks signing petitions supporting it”.  What petitions is he referring to?  I signed petitions against the development but never one about a Bill to form a town.  I do not know of any petition specifically dedicated to this town Bill?  Were the petitions that people signed over the years in opposition to the mega-developments the same ones used for this?
  23. What does the petition look like that was signed by residents in the map area?
  24. Senator Stewart said, “there has been huge pressure placed in this area for intense development; that’s it’s a rural area and they don’t want to see their area become an intensive community of development so it will be up to those people within the boundary to vote”.  Is she talking about only the Rural Service Area east of the Econ?  The HOAs are not rural but are urban.  Does she know that urban areas are included in this map area?
  25. Representative Anna Eskamani asked about collecting petitions and why Bithlo was excluded.   The speaker said they focused on the area they got most of the petitions.  How many petitions were collected from University Estates and what was the petition and how was it distributed?

3/14/2019: HB-1087:  Preservation – How were the residents notified

I sent this question to Orange County public record on 3/11.

“How were the residents within the map area of this town of Preservation notified this hearing was taking place?”

Read the response I received on 3/13.  Keep in mind, there are many agenda items in this meeting and this is just one of them.  (http://netapps.ocfl.net/Mod/meetings/8)

“As a courtesy to the delegation, we post its annual meeting in our lobby, distribute a press release, and broadcast the meeting on Orange TV.

To my knowledge, legislators will also do outreach in their respective districts. Local bill sponsors also do outreach to meet requirements in the Florida House Local Bill Policies and Procedures manual.”

Did anyone get any “outreach from our legislators, Representative Plasencia, Representative Smith or Senator Stewart?

Did anyone receive any notification that this Bill (now HB-1087) was being proposed to the Legislative Delegation on 1/28 from the local Bill sponsors (Founders Committee)?

What are the requirements in the Florida House Local Bill Policies and Procedures manual?

I am absolutely amazed that a group of people, Founders Committee, can draw lines on a map, get the backing from legislators, present a heat map and talk about a petition to a delegation of legislators and then have a Bill filed that went un-noticed until an article was read in the Sentinel.

Can you imagine if this went all the way through un-noticed and we were notified we were now in the town of Preservation?  Even now it may be impossible to remove our community from this map if the majority of residents do not want to be included.

Please attend the board meeting next week on Thursday, March 21st at 7 pm at the clubhouse.

Public record request on Legislative Delegation Meeting on Jan 28th, 2019

Public record request on Legislative Delegation Meeting on Jan 28th, 2019

From: publicrecordunit@ocfl.net <publicrecordunit@ocfl.net>
Sent: Wednesday, March 13, 2019 4:35 PM
To: rj@rjmueller.net
Subject: RE: PRR 36876

Good afternoon Mr. Mueller,

The Public Records Unit reached out to Orange County Legislative Services in reference to your question and their response is below:

The Orange County Legislative Delegation is part of the Florida Legislature, not Orange County Government.

As a courtesy to the delegation, we post its annual meeting in our lobby, distribute a press release, and broadcast the meeting on Orange TV.

To my knowledge, legislators will also do outreach in their respective districts. Local bill sponsors also do outreach to meet requirements in the Florida House Local Bill Policies and Procedures manual.

Thank you.


Public Records Unit
Office of Professional Standards
450 E South Street, 3rd Floor
Orlando FL 32801
Phone:  (407) 836-5400
Website:  www.ocfl.net

3/19/2019: HB-1087 – Preservation – Is this within the UE Board of Directors scope to take action?

Long post but very important if this concerns you, please read.

Absolutely without question.  The idea that the board cannot be involved in this is not specified anywhere in our official documents.  If the board chooses, it is well within their power to call a special meeting of the homeowners.  In fact I would go so far as to say it is their duty to the homeowners to act in a fiduciary manner and because this is such a contentious subject deal with the situation.

Sign the petition asking the BOD to hold a special meeting:

At the very least because outside (and inside) forces are acting on our community and might well change the way UE receives services, pays taxes and other unknowns that should have been presented to us before this Bill was filed, the board should take notice and act.

Examples of HOAs involved:

The president of Cypress Lakes HOA that is inside the rural service area and should be part of this town has spoken on behalf of their community at OC BCC meetings and is excluded for Preservation.

The president of the Lake Pickett Rural Settlement that is inside the rural service area and should be part of this town has spoken on behalf of their community at OC BCC meetings and is excluded for Preservation.

The Corner Lakes HOA that is inside the rural service area and adjacent to the land that will be “The Grow” is named as a party to a lawsuit against Orange County.

It is routine at the OC BCC meetings that HOA presidents speak against adjacent land use cases on behalf of their community.

This is not adjacent, this is inside UE.  The land and all the members will be forced into the town if all this goes through.  If that doesn’t affect UE, I don’t know what does.

A few years ago when I was on the board, we, (the board) spent money to have the official documents transcribed into Word Docs from PDF images so they are easily searched. On the website is the “official” documents in the PDF format that are non searchable because they are official. I have the Word Docs so let’s do a little searching and let’s prove the HOA has the power to address this if they wish.

There are three official documents:

1. The Articles of Incorporation
2. Bylaws with amendments
3. DOCAR with amendments – nothing here

Let me quote from the official docs:

1. The Articles of Incorporation

VI.A “The affairs of the Association shall be managed by a Board consisting of not less than three (3) nor more than five (5) Directors.”

What are the “The affairs of the Association”?

2. Bylaws with amendments

IV.A  “A majority of the Board of Directors of the Association (the “Board”) shall constitute a quorum to transact business at any meeting of the Board…”

What is “business “?

VI.A.8  “To exercise for the Association all powers, duties and authority vested in or delegated to the Association, except those reserved to Members in the Declaration or the Articles of Incorporation of the Association.”

What is “all powers, duties and authority vested in or delegated to the Association”?

What are “those reserved to Members”?

XI.B  “Special meetings of the Members for any purpose may be called at any time by the President, the Vice President, the Secretary or Treasurer, by any two or more members of the Board or upon written request of Members who represent one-half of all votes of the entire membership.”

A meeting can be called by any board member per this clause.  This is why we are asking for a the board to call the special meeting.  And not even the whole BOD, all it takes is “the President, the Vice President, the Secretary or Treasurer” or “two or more members of the Board”.  So there doesn’t even have to be a vote for a meeting.  All that needs to happen is a board member needs to ask for a special meeting and it’s done.

Let me comment on the last part of the sentence, “upon written request of Members who represent one-half of all votes of the entire membership”.  It is nearly impossible to get one-half of the votes of the entire membership.

This clause is very common in HOAs when HOAs want to change the documents so the official documents are seldom changed.  That’s why problems exist in HOAs that can never be changed.  Regency Park has 40% rentals with properties owned by distant investors.  Do you think they have any chance to change their docs?

That’s why we are asking the board to help us only to the point of calling a meeting of the members so we can decide for ourselves what we want to do as a community.  We need their help to call a meeting, not make a decision.  We might be able to get 50% of the members but it would take time that we do not have.

Now the challenge.  To those who say the documents say the HOA BOD cannot be involved, please point out specifically in the HOA where that is so in this case.

Don’t be fooled, the HOA BOD and  in fact only one member has the power to call a special meeting IF they so desire.  I hope that if there are those on the board that are sympathetic to Preservation, they have the wisdom and fortitude to put that bias aside and look at the unofficial poll, the volume of discussion here on this subject and decide to let the members decide for themselves.

3/18/2019: HB-1087 – Preservation – Why are the HOAs in the town map area?

Here’s a video that hopefully you find entertaining as I take you through the issue with Preservation.

I am not against the town of Preservation.  I hope it succeeds as it will help the people in the rural area preserve their way of life.  But, I am against our urban community of University Estates being in the town of Preservation which is focused on preserving the rural lifestyle.

The big question to ask after you watch my video is, “Why does the Founders Committee want UE in the town of Preservation?”

When you watch the video take note of the line between the urban service area and the rural service area.  Because this town is focused on preserving the rural area, it will effectively move the rural service boundary line around our urban communities.

At the same time, urban type communities such as Lake Pickett Rural Settlement, Cypress Lakes, Bithlo and Wedgefield in the rural service area are not subject to this rural focused town.

Sign the petition asking the BOD to hold a special meeting:

PETITION: We Demand University Estates BOD take action on Referendum HB-1087

3/20/2019:  Website creation: http://townofpreservation.org

I just found out there is a website for the town of Preservation.  This is the first I have heard of it so I decided to do some checking mainly because there is a petition menu item that takes me to a petition page that looks like this.  Notice the highlighted text.  It says, “By signing this petition, you are only expressing interest in creating our own Town. Your signature does not bind you in any way regarding a future incorporation vote; it does help us gauge the interest levels of citizens and business owners within the boundary. We encourage all HOA’s and local businesses to contact the Proposed Town of Preservation to set up a meeting.”  The Founders Committee wants us to set up meetings with them.  This is the petition to gauge interest.

townofpreservation.org petition

townofpreservation.org petition

Here’s where it gets interesting.  When I lookup the domain name here: https://whois.icann.org/en/lookup?name=townofpreservation.org I see who is behind the town: Save Orange County.  And farther down when the website was created, 2/25/2019.  Almost one month AFTER the Legislative Hearing.  So how could anyone sign this petition to show interest when the petition was not even online.  What petition are the Founders talking about when they say those in the heat map area showed interest through petitions?



3/14/2019: HB-1087 – Preservation – Will my property taxes go up?

One question people have been asking is if their property taxes will go up.

According to the TownOfPreservation.org website, your property taxes will go down.  I thought I would show you exactly how much this impacts my property taxes and give you the spreadsheet I used to calculate my savings according to the information provided on the website.

If I did my calculations right in the video, my  property taxes will go down $259 from $3,640 to $3,381 on an assessed value of $223,470.

The two questions I had to ask myself are:

  1. Do I believe the mill rate?
  2. Does the reward of $259 a year outweigh the risk of being part of this new town?

I have no way to know the answer to the first question but to the second, my answer is No.

3/19/2019: HB-1087 – Preservation – speaking at the board meeting

Apparently the board has gone full on formal. This started at the last board meeting.

It used to be that speaking at the board meeting was very informal and members contributed to board discussion at will. It appears that has changed so here are the rules now.

Apparently my email on March 12th asking that HB-1087 did not make the cut-off for this meeting so it is not on the agenda. It says on the notice I just received, “Any Member wishing to add an agenda item must petition the Board fourteen (14) days in advance of the meeting to allow the Board to research the question or suggestion.” My email to the board was never answered by the property manager or I would have asked for an exception in this case.  This rule has never been enforced before.  The normal protocol in the past was to simple ask homeowners if they had anything they wanted to talk about.

But we can still bring this up in public comment. Here’s what you must know if you are going to make that drive all the way to Longwood.

“Members may speak for three (3) minutes during public comment on any item and 3 minutes on agenda items but only if they have notified the Secretary in advance of the call to order.”

You can only speak for 3 minutes and only if you have notified the Secretary in advance of the call to order meaning you have to be there early and tell the Secretary you want to speak. Even as formal as it is downtown at the Orange County Board of Commissioners, the Mayor asks after all the speakers have spoken if anyone else would like to speak.  This is very formal.

It also says there will be no open forum.

My question is, what is the purpose of the board? Is it just to cut the grass, keep the trees trimmed and take care of the general maintenance of the community.  Or is there a human component also.

I understand the members of the board are volunteers and are freely giving their time and for that I am grateful and this is no reflection on the board members directly.

I would encourage the board to take HB-1087 seriously because 81 people in our community in an informal poll thinks so as well as 50 who so far have signed a petition asking the board for a member meeting think it is a good idea.

I walked Georgetown with my wife last night to get petitions signed.  I didn’t get very far, only a few houses in an hour and a half.  Want to know why?  Because people wanted to talk and I did not come across one that wants to be in the town of Preservation.  I know there are some and that’s fine but at least give us that choice to make in a member meeting through a formal vote.  That’s all we ask and it only takes one brave board member to call the meeting.

I hope a few of you decide to make that drive to Longwood and at this meeting, the members, all of us, can discuss this as civil adults and put civility before the formalities of Robert’s Rules.


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Cycling: How to handle the right hook

Avoiding Right Hook conflict with turning carsA “Right Hook” happens when a motorist makes a right turn directly in front of a cyclist, cutting the cyclist off.

How can this happen when the driver must have seen the cyclist when the driver just passed the cyclist?

It has to do with speed.  Most drivers misinterpret the speed of the cyclist and think they have enough time to make the turn.

In the video you will see how I handle avoiding the right Hook.  This is an intersection where many drivers make a right turn.  I am riding in the bike lane.

  1. The first scenario shows a motorist making a right turn in front of me.  The motorist had a choice.  He was coming up behind me and could have waited but instead made the choice to beat me to the turn.
  2. The second scenario shows a mini-van that is clearly turning and has it’s turn signal on.  My choice was to wait for the driver to turn before moving forward.
  3. The next scenario is the worst possible for a cyclist.  Riding along side a bus and possibly in a blind spot.  You don’t want to be here.  I was illustrating how not to and was on high alert.
  4. The next scenario shows how to handle the bus.  I chose to ride just in front of the bus so he could clearly see me and I was in control as well as watch the driver in front of me.
  5. The next scenario is an example of being aware of what’s going on around you.  I see the cars turning and also see the red light so in this case I moved forward to control the lane.  The driver in the truck had no choice but to wait for me to cross the intersection first.
  6. The next driver sees me and is turning right.  This driver chose to wait behind me and make the turn after I cleared the intersection.  Wish every driver was as courteous as this one.
  7. The next scenario is me controlling the lane in front of a mustang.
  8. The last scenario shows the best way for a cyclist to stay safe and that is to control the entire lane and stay out of the bike lane.  In my case the intersection is just a couple of hundred yards so this works.  This is the scenario where I feel safest knowing there is no chance of a right hook.
    Note: Florida law specifies that if there is a lane marked for bicycle use, then cyclists must ride in that lane except for a number of different reasons.  The list of exceptions is fairly broad and should provide broad discretion for cyclists to determine when a bike lane is or is not safe for their use.  Considering right hooks are the second most common accidents and this intersection is a great candidate for right hooks, riding a couple of hundred yards in the main traffic lane seems reasonable.

The last piece of video shows a real right hook that happened on my ride to work on Orion Blvd.  I’m in the bike lane.  Another faster rider is on the sidewalk.  He is doing about 18 mph so that’s fast for a commuter.  Ahead is a right turn.  A truck turns in and then right behind the truck is a car.  It is clear the driver of the car misinterpreted the speed of the cyclist and turned right in front of the cyclist.  You can see the driver hit the brakes and the cyclist swerve to avoid the crash.

Drivers, be aware of the speed of the cyclist and cyclist, make sure you are aware and watching for that right hook.

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Why do you want to protect the “Rural Area”

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Development east of the Econ river in the Rural Service Area (RSA) has brought fight after fight with the mantra, “Protect the Rural Area”.  But what does that mean?

After thinking about this for a while, it comes down to two questions.

1. How should the rural area be developed?

There are two extremes.

The developers would like to develop the rural area as urban with maximum density.  The residents in the rural area want to hold development as rural with 1 house per 10 acres.

The problem is there is no middle ground and anyone in the thick of this is forced to pick a side.  But this is more to this than just protecting the rural area because there are those who live inside the urban service area that are directly affected.

2. Why do YOU want to protect the rural area?

This second question is important because if you are passionate about protecting the rural area then ask yourself why?  And then put the list you come up with in priority order.

Here’s my list in order:

  1. Prevent Urban Sprawl – lower density worsens sprawl
  2. Protect the Environment – any development contributes to pollution
  3. Traffic – closely tied to urban sprawl – more development – more traffic
  4. Protect our way of life – not just those in the rural area but all of East Orange County

How would you rank this list?

#4 is the wrench in the works because at this time I see protecting way of life only applying to those who live inside the rural area and not everyone in East Orange County.

Whether anyone likes it or not, because of the lawsuit that is in progress and the push to keep traffic off the rural roads, the people most affected are those who live between UCF and the Econ river.  Traffic keeps building with no plan to address it and a fully funded traffic study that was supposed to provide a plan of action to Orange County was put on hold indefinitely because of the lawsuit.

Personally, fighting the fight against urban sprawl is near and dear to my heart but so is the way of life of everyone in East Orange County.

How do we keep the rural area rural, while at the same time solve our traffic issues?

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RJ’s introduction to the new Board of County Commissioners

This is my introduction public comment to the Board of County Commissioners. There are four new board members so I wanted them to remember me.  I made an interesting little video so the next time they see me they remember who I am and know that my focus is the traffic issues in East Orange County.

At the end of the public comment, Commissioner Bonilla made a reference to a traffic study that is underway in East Orange County. She said she has been working on the traffic issues since she took office and to me that sounded like this traffic study was initiated by Orange County due to the traffic issues.

But that traffic study is in response to a recent action being taken by Research Park who is thinking about tolling their roadways. Their roadways are private property and they have every right to do just that. Can you imagine what that action would do to Alafaya Trail, Lake Pickett and N. Tanner Road as commuters who use those roads as cut-throughs to UCF try to find a cheaper alternative to get around the tolled roadways.

Orange County needs a plan. The blueprint for that plan is the regional transportation plan that Mayor Jacobs authorized in early 2017 and was funded with INVEST funds. But because 6 residents filed a law suit against the county to prevent the Lake Pickett Text amendment, that study was abandoned.  Commissioner Bonilla was one of the 6 residents who was part of the law suit until she was elected commissioner and had to drop out.

I want to know what Commissioner Bonilla’s plan is to fix traffic.  It is not the traffic study she referred to in this video.  She is in her third year of office and so far I have seen no forward movement to fix our traffic issues.  What’s the plan?

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Commissioner Bonilla wants the county to fund a company $100k per year for 3 years

Commissioner Bonilla wants the county to fund a company $100k per year for 3 years. That’s $300,000.  This money would be used for hiring staff and setting up a local office.

She says it will help low income people. The other board members aren’t quite as convinced this is a good idea for many reasons.

This struck me in much the same way the mayor and other commissioners felt. Why would this company have an advantage over others and why would Orange County fund a company to get started and not others? I could use $100k for three years to start a company that helped low income families too.

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Board of County Commissioners

The BCC discussed going on a retreat

This was an interesting discussion.

In a recent meeting the Orange County Board of County Commissioners (BCC) discussed going on a retreat to discuss the rules and procedures for board meetings.

That seemed odd.

If was interesting to see that the mayor and most of the commissioners had concerns about how this would be perceived by the public. It was also interesting to see that Commissioner Bonilla thought an off-site retreat was a good idea.

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Leave us alone

River Cross – the shenanigans in Tallahassee look like they will continue!

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Here is an excerpt from the Seminole County Board of County Commission meetings. The board was in the process of picking a lobbying firm to represent them in Tallahassee.  They actually picked two companies as it seems Tallahassee is not too favorable to local government.

You will hear Commissioner Constantine ask specifically about River Cross and what is expected and how the firms will deal with the situation.

When HB883 came up and verbiage was added to the bill which allowed urban development within 3 miles of a state university, Seminole County lobbyists caught it and we all got on the band wagon to prevent it.  If you watch this video you will hear that this is not over and most likely will come up again.  Thank Seminole County for being on high alert and watching what our elected officials in Tallahassee are up to.


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bio-tech consulting

I don’t always agree with Scott Maxwell from the Sentinel but…

John Miklos

John Miklos

In the paper today I read Scott Maxwell’s column on John Miklos who is the chair of the St, John’s Water Management District.  His main job is running a company called Bio-Tech Consulting.  The problem comes when the guy charged with protecting our environment and working for the best interests of the residents of Florida is hired by developers such as Sustany as their environmental expert.  “Conflict of Interest” come to mind?



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How Orange County uses Private/Public Partnerships to build and improve roads

Private/Public Partnerships are used by Orange County as a tool to build and improve roads.  This allows Orange County to share the cost of roadway construction and improvements with developers.  It is a valuable tool but is also A double-edged sword.  Listen to Commissioner Moore tell Mr. Nastasi, the Orange County Transportation Planning Manager, how pleased she is with private/public partnerships for roadways and then hear Mr. Nastasi briefly explain a private/public partnership.

It’s a great tool but we have seen where it benefited more the developer than the residents as in the case of Sustany .  You may remember that Sustany is the mega-development that included a bridge across the Econ River at McCulloch.  It was defeated.  In my opinion, that road served the development rather than the residents of Orange County.  And it surely would have brought McCulloch Road to it’s knees with the increased traffic  across the bridge.

Orange County needs to use this tool wisely and not as the only tool to fund roadways.  Orange County has a 1.6 billion dollar shortfall in road improvements and needs to find the money to fill the void without depending entirely on developers and these private/public partnerships.

One nagging question I have is this.  The developers spend money to improve the roads but receive impact fees credits that can be used when they build the houses.  Isn’t that a net zero to them and the actual cost is born by the residents of Orange County in the long run?  Or are the credits a percentage of the money they expend?  Either way it does seem as though the developer gets a benefit in the form of impact fee credits.

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