Orange County Community Meeting

6/2/2015 – Draft comment at the Community Meeting

Unfortunately I did not make it to the mic on Tuesday but here is what I wanted to say.

I have two questions but first a little precursor.

My name is RJ Mueller and this is my third rodeo regarding the Lake Pickett properties.  Some of you may know me from my website called where I blog frequently on the subject of traffic in East Orange County.

On the first go around I was just a casual observer.  On the second I was strongly opposed as I live right on one of the most failing roads in the area, McCulloch.  But this time I have become cautiously optimistic as I see a plan starting to form.  I would like to see this move to the next step BUT ONLY if it means commuters will have a better commute … police, fire and rescue can respond faster … school buses can get our kids to school safely …  AND … the roads will become less congested.  I believe that is what we have all been asking for and vehemently complaining about to the county for years.

I see signs talking about 15,000 more cars on the road.  I used to be one of the people standing out on Hwy 50 holding those signs during the second go around.  But here is how I think about 15,000 more cars today.  I am ok with 15,000 more cars on the roads … IF … the roads can handle them and traffic moves freely.  I am NOT ok with even a few more cars on the same roads with no improvements and I think we are heading for many more than a few even without these developments.

It appears we are being presented with an interesting choice.  A choice between a potential traffic solution using money funded by these developer … or … keeping the area rural and being faced with the reality of not fixing the traffic problems we have now and watching the problems get worse and worse over time until a fix is forced upon us because by law the county must maintain the roads to a certain standard.

So now to my first questions.

Would it be a true statement to say that this desire to keep everything rural in this area over many many years has led us into this traffic dilemma and the firm conviction to stay rural is the main reason the county will not put money into roads in the rural service area here which has consequently led to the money paid in impact fees being used elsewhere in the county?  If this is true please elaborate on how impact fees are used in the county and why the money went elsewhere.

My second question:

Is it also true that the county relies heavily on money from development to build roads where otherwise they could not be built which is the case in this area as all of these county roads are named as partnership roads?  If this is true, please explain what partnership roads are and how they are built.

If these developments do not move forward and the only change is that Hwy 50 is 6 laned to Old Cheney, will this road improvement be enough to fix all the traffic problems we have in this area which includes, McCulloch, N. Tanner, Lake Pickett, S. Tanner and 419 as well as additional traffic that will come even without these developments.   If the answer is no what would the county do to fix the failing roads with the knowledge that the county is obligated by law to maintain the roads to a certain standard?

Is there a cost estimate on how much the developers will have to contribute to the road improvements in order to fix the failing roads as well as accommodate the additional traffic these developments will generate and at the end of the road will the developer end up paying nothing due to credits?

What is the guarantee to the residents in this area that the money that is generated from these developments will be used in this area to improve these roads?

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Scott Boyd District 1 Commissioner

2/2/2015 – Meeting with Commissioner Boyd

Today I went down to the County Administration building and met with Commissioner Boyd.

The reason I asked to meet with him was to talk about the traffic issues in East Orange County and to ask him for advice as he has experience with Horizon West and might have some suggestions on how to fix our traffic issues on our side of town.  Scott Boyd is always receptive and willing to talk, listen and help and for that matter that is my experience with all the commissioners as well as the mayor.

We looked at the maps of the area and I showed him what has happened over the last 25 years and what has caused our problems.  I also showed him what effect the Lake Pickett properties will have on our area if nothing happens to improve the roads.   We discussed road funding and how new road and road improvements are funded.  This included impact fees and additional funds paid by developers to fix the roads.  I explained that there must be enough money to fix all the roads if developers are involved or there is no point in developer contribution.   We also talked about locking in funds so they can only be used in our area and not funneled to other areas of Orange County.  There are ways to do this also.

Commissioner Boyd is also on the  Vice Chairman of the Central Florida Expressway Authority and I showed him a map from the Expressway Authority website that shows the 408 dead-ending into Hwy 50 and that this is where one of the major bottle-necks is and asked him if there was something he could do.  He said he would look into it and see if there was anything the Expressway Authority could do to help improve the area.

Another discussion revolved around the rural way of life.  I explained that there are people who live in the area that don’t want their way of life changed and enjoy the rural setting.  I asked if the Lake Pickett properties were built what stops the developer from putting commercial along a rural road and disrupting the rural ambiance of the area.  He said there are ways to prevent this from happening.

All in all it was a very good productive meeting and just one more step in getting as many people involved to help fix East Orange County.

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Traffic in the future

25 years in under 3 minutes

This video shows traffic evolution over the past 25 years and where we are today.  There are reasons for the problems we have now that I will explain in a later post.  It is important to understand where we were and where we are today so we can plan for the future.

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Planning and Zoning

1/30/2015 – Meeting with Orange County Staff

Lake Pickett Properties

Lake Pickett Properties

On Friday, 1/30.2015, I and several other residents of East Orange County met with Orange County staff to discuss the process for two applications that are in the 15-2 planning cycle.  These applications are for the two properties to the north and south of Lake Pickett.  The purpose of the meeting was to set up future meetings with residents in the areas so Orange County staff can address all the concerns and see if it is feasible to approve the applications that will be voted on by the Board of County Commissioners at some future date.

Understanding the process a land owner goes through to get a property re-zoned is crucial to our traffic problem in East Orange County.  This is because the immensity of these two properties will have a very negative impact on the traffic if they are approved without consideration for traffic.  Orange County is very aware of the issues and is working to resolve them but there are many issues that need to be overcome, not just traffic.   Orange County is taking a different approach this go around and bringing residents in to better understand the issues from our point of view.  This is a good thing.

The two major concerns expressed by residents were traffic and disruption to residents way of life who live close by these properties.  Traffic is a major concern but way of life is right there with it.  It is just not at the forefront right now because traffic is such a huge issue.  There is a road off Hwy 50 just to the west of Alafaya called Oberry Hoover Road that visually shows how a rural way of life can be completely destroyed.  In 1990 Oberry Hoover Road used to look very much like S. Tanner looks now.  Peaceful and rural.  Now it is right in the middle of one of the busiest areas in East Orange County.  We all know what it is like to drive near Waterford.  If you drive down Alafaya, look behind Dick’s Sporting Goods and you will see trees that is Oberry Hoover Road.  If you drive down Oberry Hoover Road you will think you are in a rural area expect for the very large ugly utility poles running down the side.  But it is not rural because once you get to the Hwy 50, you are right in the middle of urban life.

We cannot allow S. Tanner to look like Oberry Hoover Road in 10 years.  We cannot allow development to continue without a concrete plan for the roadways that is fully funded and guaranteed to be used in our area.

What is the cost to fix this problem and where will the money come from?  That is the question I asked staff and that needs to be determined.  What is the point of allowing the development and have the developer contribute a very large sum of money to fix the roads if it is not enough to improve our situation.  If all we can hope for is the same or worse, there is no point in developing the property.  The only way this can work is if our situation improves which means more money must come from other sources as the money from the developers will most likely not be enough to solve the problems.

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