9/8/2016 – Letter to Board of County Commissioners regarding Environment

From: rj@rjmueller.net [mailto:rj@rjmueller.net]
Sent: Friday, September 9, 2016 11:13 AM
To: ‘mayor@ocfl.net’ <mayor@ocfl.net>; ‘district5@ocfl.net’ <district5@ocfl.net>; ‘district1@ocfl.net’ <district1@ocfl.net>; ‘district2@ocfl.net’ <district2@ocfl.net>; ‘district3@ocfl.net’ <district3@ocfl.net>; ‘jennifer thompson’ <district4@ocfl.net>; ‘ted.edwards@ocfl.net’ <ted.edwards@ocfl.net>; ‘Scott.Boyd@ocfl.net’ <Scott.Boyd@ocfl.net>; ‘bryan.nelson@ocfl.net’ <bryan.nelson@ocfl.net>; ‘victoria.siplin@ocfl.net’ <victoria.siplin@ocfl.net>; ‘pete.clarke@ocfl.net’ <pete.clarke@ocfl.net>; ‘Jennifer.Thompson@ocfl.net’ <Jennifer.Thompson@ocfl.net>; ‘district6@ocfl.net’ <district6@ocfl.net>
Subject: Lake Pickett properties – Why they are so different from other properties

Mayor Jacobs and Commissioner Edwards,

Commissioner Edwards says the Lake Pickett properties are the hole in the donut.  He also says people who live in sub-divisions like Cypress Lakes or Corner Lakes don’t have the right to say how the Lake Pickett properties should be developed.  He thinks that the Lake Pickett properties are the same as Cypress Lakes and Corner Lakes and should be developed the same way.

I don’t think he has read or has forgotten the document created by St. Johns River Water Management called the “ECONLOCKHATCHEE SANDHILLS CONSERVATION AREA” that was written when the property was purchased in 2009.  (http://www.sjrwmd.com/landmanagementplans/pdfs/2009_Econlockhatchee_Sandhills.pdf).  I don’t think he has seen or remembers this map from page 11 of the document.  Notice the orange area and the area it covers.  It covers the Lake Pickett properties.  It does not cover Corner Lakes or Cypress Lakes or even the Lake Pickett Rural Settlement.  This orange area is designated a “Priority 2 Strategic Habitat Conservation Area” by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.  Priority 2 is the second highest level.

This area is very different from other areas and has to be protected.  Development in this area has to be done completely different from other areas.

Strategic Habitat Conservation Area

Strategic Habitat Conservation Area

Gopher Tortoise in its Burrow

Gopher Tortoise in its Burrow

We have all heard of Gopher tortoises.  We have all seen them crossing the roads and cars stopping and drivers getting out to carry them to the woods.  But do you really know anything about them?  They aren’t just cute reptiles, they are a keystone threatened species and protected by state law. In all the world they only live here in Florida and a couple of neighboring states but their numbers are declining and why?  Because of exactly what is happening at Lake Pickett.  By concreting over this land, you will surely be responsible for assisting in the extinction of these reptiles.  By Florida law Gopher tortoises must be relocated before any land clearing or development takes place, and property owners must obtain permits from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission before they can move them (http://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/managed/Gopher-tortoise/rules-and-regulations/).  But moving them does not guarantee their survival and where will they be moved to?

Other Species that use the Gopher Tortoise Hole

Other Species that use the Gopher Tortoise Hole

If a tortoise burrow is not found and it is concreted over, the tortoise dies a very slow death.  Many times it is the baby tortoises buried in a tomb they thought was a safe haven from predators.  They didn’t count on the worst predator of all, man.  They cannot dig out of the burrow with a living room on top of it.  And because of their slow metabolism they can live for months before dying.  Can you imagine being buried alive for months?  A baby tortoise’ life that can live as long as we live cut short and sentenced to death by burial.  Who is going to oversee this undertaking and ensure every one of those reptiles are found and relocated.

When the Sandhill property was purchased there were close to 400 burrows surveyed and that is only 700 acres.  How many Gopher tortoises live on the Lake Pickett properties?  I asked that question at the community meeting and the answer I received from Mr. Miklos was yes, they must be moved and everything will be done per state law.  This answer is coming from the owner of Bio-Tech Consulting (http://bio-techconsulting.com/about-us/leadership/) who was hired by the Lake Pickett North developers.  As you are well aware Mr. Miklos is also the chairman of St. Johns River Water Management board of directors (http://www.sjrwmd.com/governingboard/boardmembers.html).  To a citizen like myself, this seems like a conflict of interest.  How can the chairman of SJRWMD also be the environmental contractor for the developer and effectively do his job at SJRWMD with no bias?  I am sure it can be rationalized but I cannot see it.

Other Species that use the Gopher Tortoise Hole

Other Species that use the Gopher Tortoise Hole

You are playing with fire when you decide to develop this area in this way.  You are not being good stewards of the land.  Land owners may have a deed to these properties and think they own them but no one owns any land.  We are simply the stewards of the land and how we treat it determines what other generations will have to enjoy or not.  It will determine if the Gopher tortoise and the other 350-400 species who depend on the tortoise for their homes survive.   What is happening now is very short-sighted and irresponsible and enforces what people believe to be true regarding developers and the commission.

Please stop and consider the environment above all else.  There is no need to rush this with so much at stake.  If this land is to be developed then do it right and not in this crazy, haphazard and irresponsible way that I believe Commissioner Edwards is driving.

Going full circle, I believe every person wherever they live has every right to demand this area be preserved and developed in a very responsible manner considering what it means for our children and their children.


RJ Mueller

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The bridge is not the solution

4/5/2016 – Ground Zero at McCulloch and N. Tanner

The intersection of McCulloch and S. Tanner has become GROUND ZERO for traffic problems considering this new idea to cross the Econ at McCulloch Road.

Why am I completely against this crossing AT THIS TIME?

Numbers!  Purely numbers and facts!

LOS = Level Of Service.  LOS is a designation that Orange county uses to rate roads.  As shown below from the traffic study for the Lake Pickett North (LPN) (Rybolt) development, the section from Lockwood to N. Tanner is rated “F” (Exist LOS on the chart).

There is no worse designation!

Notice the cap of 880.  880 is the threshold that takes a road from “D” to “F”.  Notice the 1,300 (Peak Hr Volume).  This means that this section of roadway is 1,300 – 880 = 420 trips above an “F”.  In English, it is a really really bad “F”.  Like your kid getting a 30% on a test.  That’s a really bad “F”.  So this section is really bad.  You say, “What else is new, we all know that”.  Read on….

Lockwood to McCulloch LOS

Lockwood to McCulloch LOS

Let’s project some numbers based on LOS.

880 is an “F” for a 2-lane roadway.
2,000 is an “F” for a 4-lane roadway.

Let’s just say that Orange County 4-lanes McCulloch Road in this section so an “F” becomes 2,000 trips.

Without LPN, traffic is already at 1,300 so it is not an “F” if it were 4-laned but still not good.  LPN wants 1,999 homes.  Peak trips are about 2,000 trips overall and if you look at the little diagram below you see 50%.  That number means that LPN is going to contribute 50% of the peak trips or about 1,000 trips onto that section of roadway.

LPN percentage traffic on McCulloch

LPN percentage traffic on McCulloch

1,300 + 1,000 = 2,300 making that section of roadway an “F”.

And don’t forget the other mega development with over 2,000 units with traffic that will come over on Lake Pickett and up N. Tanner to the exact same interchange causing even more problems.

Don’t forget the traffic from the north that would otherwise go across on 419 coming instead down Lockwood or Old Lockwood to GROUND ZERO!

Folks, as good as it sounds to put this road in now and as much as you want to support this, it is by no means a solution.  All this will do is just add more cars to an already congested road and we will be in exact same mess or worse.

The solution is to first fix connectivity on the west side of the Econ and put in a 4-lane road called the Richard Crotty Parkway that goes from the end of Research Parkway over to N. Tanner.  This will divert traffic off of the section on McCulloch that is already an “F” and give it relief.  It will also provide a south entrance to UCF from the east as well as a way into Research Park.  After all, the developers have told us that the bulk of people who will be living in their houses will work at UCF or Research Park so doesn’t it make sense to give them a better way to get there.  My feeling overall is the density the developers on Lake Pickett North is too high for the infrastructure to handle and must be reduced.

Richard Crotty Parkway

Richard Crotty Parkway

Orange County must put this road in first before even thinking about crossing the Econ at McCulloch.

Key note:  Orange County must maintain roads above a certain LOS.  How will putting a bridge across the road fix anything given that in time, this road reverts right back to an “F”.

Any good soldier knows that the most critical factor in any war is supply line.  You can’t fight a battle with a broken supply line and that is exactly what Orange County is thinking about doing.  First you must strengthen your supply line before moving forward.  Fix the roads on the West side of the Econ before even thinking about crossing over.  Putting in another road across the Econ into a broken road system doesn’t solve the problem.

If you have read down this far, here is my view on LPN.  The density is way to high.  It is a land locked area with no good ways to move traffic and no way to effectively accomodate all the traffic.  It is also in an environmentally sensitive area located right next to the Econ.  If this is going to be a viable development, density must be reduced.  It is just too high.  On another note, no thought has been put into multi-modal transportation like buses, bicycles or other forms of transportation.  We are stuck in the world of cars and it is the reason our traffic problems are so intense.




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3/28/2016 – Possibly the most important meeting in the next 4 years

Please attend the Charter Review Commission meeting at 4 pm on March 31st at the County Administration Center, 201 S. Rosalind Avenue, First Floor Orlando, Florida 32801. The CRC meets in the Chambers on the first floor. If you are so inclined please fill out a speaker card and express your support for the protection of the rural boundary.

On Thursday, March 31st, we will have a decision made that quite possible will affect us for the rest of our lives. This decision will decide the fate of East Orange County and so far it has come down to the vote of just two people who denied a request of the citizens to place higher scrutiny on re-zoning between the Econ and the St. Johns River. We need your help at this meeting. I believe that the two people who voted against this do not fully comprehend what is at stake.

Quite simply we want this:

“We want a unanimous vote of the Board of County Commissioners for any zoning changes between the Econ and the St. John’s River.”

When the large landowners and real estate business people found out this was going on, they showed up and sent lawyers that assaulted us full on by using words like these to describe our request: “undemocratic”, “un-American”, “tyrannical”, “veto power”, “political patronage”, political shenanigans”, “mob rule” and “political corruption”. I find the inference that the residents of this area because of their desire to preserve this area as being somehow unpatriotic, un-American or tyrannical is quite frankly insulting.

I believe property rights are sacred.  This protection in no way prohibits the landowners from exercising their rights to develop their property.  What it does do is ensure that this area is developed with the environment in mind.  The water in the aquifer, rivers, streams, lakes and springs does not belong to anyone yet we are it’s guardians.  It is our responsibility to ensure it is preserved for generations to come.

Please attend this very important meeting.

Read Senator Bob Graham’s email regarding successes and failures in our fight to preserve our water.
Senator Bob Graham email

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