12/24/2015 – Rriding down McCulloch Road on the sidewalk

Some people asked why not use the sidewalk to commute by bike.

Knowing people would wonder about this, I put together this video showing riding down McCulloch Road on the sidewalk which is about as much fun as riding on the road.

This is on 12/23/2015 at 9:45 am. Our sidewalks are great for pedestrians but not so good for cycling. Especially cycling to commute. Commuters want to get where they are going fast and not be burdened trying to navigate pot holes, uneven pavement, mud, debris and especially dangerous crosswalks that requires slowing or stopping. Crosswalks are very dangerous to cyclists because drivers aren’t expecting a bike to cross. Driver are looking for cars and want to get out into the flow of traffic so sometimes a bike crossing and is not seen. Many drivers also expect the bike to stop and give way to the car. Also, most sidewalks are not wide enough for two bikes to pass safely.

We must make our roads safer for cyclists and change this culture to get people using bikes more and more to help control traffic congestion.

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12/23/2015 – Commuting by bike on McCulloch Road – Not so fun!

On this short video and two mile ride, you will see 12 cars violate the 3 foot rule putting me in danger. There is just no safe way to get down this road.

This video shows a typical commute down McCulloch Road. This is on 12/23/2015 at 9:30 am when traffic was light. While watching this imagine what it would be like when UCF semester is in session at 8 am or 6 pm. After watching this video, it is very easy to understand why students do not commute to school or more people commute to work.

If you are wondering why I am not on the sidewalk, My next video, Part II, will show going down McCulloch on the sidewalk and why it is just as dangerous or even more so.

We must change this culture and get people using bikes more and more to help control traffic congestion.

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12/21/2015 – Environmentally Sensitive areas and Development – Part I

East Orange County has traffic problems but it is also under increased pressure to be developed which will affect humans but also affect the environment and wildlife.

Here is a short video showing how development and roadways can impact wildlife. The video shows a discussion at the PNZ (Planning and Zoning) meeting and is not in our area but the gentleman who spoke during public comment made some very important points. This is Part I.

The followup video, Part II, will bring all these thoughts home and relate it to the environmentally sensitive area between the Econ and St. Johns. You will see it in a few days.

We need to ensure the CRC (Charter Review Committee) really understands how important this area is and why it needs to be protected. Please share this video and the followup.

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12/18/2015 – Traffic on McCulloch comparing when UCF is in session and not

Want to see what traffic looks like when UCF is in session and the day after the semester ends. This is quite interesting and should erase any question about where most of the traffic goes on McCulloch Road.

Extending Research Parkway to N. Tanner will fix this problem.

Nov 18th is no particular day. It is just a random day I decided to video and not because traffic was heavy. It was just because. Dec 16th was intentionally picked because it is the day after the semester ended. Both days were at 8 am.

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12/10/2015 – Charter Review Commission Public Comment on Rural Boundary

I had the pleasure of driving over to Wekiva High School on the 10th for public comment at the Charter Review Commission meeting regarding the Rural Boundary.

Folks, we have a rare opportunity to ensure the rural area is protected and developed responsibly by requiring that zoning east of the Econ is only approved by a unanimous vote of the BCC. If we can get this placed on the ballot for the people to decide next November, any zoning changes will meet the most stringent scrutiny because all of the commissioners will have to vote yes to rezone. Land owners can still apply for rezoning but will have to convince all 7 members of the BCC to rezone.

Please make time to be at the next CRC meeting for support. There is no CRC meeting posted on the website but the work group meets on Jan 12th at 12 pm. I will post dates as we get closer. The CRC usually meets on the 2nd Thursday so that would be the 14th, 2 days after the work group.

Please share this and post it anywhere you can to spread the word.

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12/3/2015 – Email to the Rural Boundary Work Group – Charter Review Committee

Today I sent an email to the Charter Review Committee and Rural Boundary Work Group which was appointed by the Charter Review Committee to look into protection of the rural area.  The letter is below.

I would encourage anyone who has strong feeling about protecting the Econ River Basin to do the same and send an email in your own words as to why we should protect this area.  Email charter2016@occompt.com. with your comments.  The next meeting will be on Thursday, 12/10/2015, 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM at Wekiva High School – Media Center 2751 N. Hiawassee Road Apopka, Florida if you want to make public comment on this subject.

The work group is looking for guidance on what we want so here it is in one simple sentence:

“Any re-zoning East of the Econ must be approved through a unanimous vote of the Board of County Commissioners.”

That’s it.  If we can get this into the charter the land east of the Econ will be protected.

Here is my email:


From: rj@rjmueller.net [mailto:rj@rjmueller.net]

Sent: Wednesday, December 9, 2015 10:54 AM
To: ‘Charter’ <charter2016@occompt.com>
Subject: Please forward to CRC members regarding Rural Boundary as well as the Rural Boundary work group

Honorable Charter Review Commission,

Several times in both the last Charter Review Commission meeting and the Work group meeting commissioners asked the public what we want when it comes to protecting the rural boundary.

I can’t speak for anyone else but what I want is very simple.  I want “A unanimous vote of the BCC for any zoning changes East of the Econ”.

Please review this video to see maps and other information that I can’t easily convey by email.  Please excuse the amateur way it is put together.   It just conveys the points. (https://youtu.be/Fca5cO0DzTg)

I have lived out in East Orange County since 1993 and have seen a lot of changes.  I have also been heavily involved in the fights over the Lake Pickett developments.  Three times ago I was completely against the developments.  Not because I am anti-development but because there was no plan at all to ensure the infrastructure was in place to support the developments.  I think everyone is very aware of the traffic issues in East Orange County.  The next time, I was neither for or against the developments but saw an opportunity to get the roads funded through assistance from the developers.

But now some events have occurred to make me rethink my position once again.

Road challenges:

  • I was under the impression that the county was in desperate need of roadway funding until I heard the mayor speak to you a couple of meetings ago.  She stated that Orange County does not have a funding issue with the roads and there is enough money to take us through the next 10 years.  I was shocked to hear this as that is not my impression at all especially with the road issues we have and as evident by a presentation Mr. Nastasi gave to the board a few months ago showing a 1.6 billion deficit for road repairs.
  • These comments threw the Sales Tax work group into confusion as evident by comments from one commissioner.  At the next meeting Commissioner Brummer abruptly stated that the work group ended without an explanation.  On listening to the audio I heard no explanation either which leaves one to his own thoughts.
  • I respect and admire the BCC for the work they do so please don’t take these words negatively.  It does seem as though there is some difference of opinion on the subject of road funding as evident by Commissioner Edwards comments at the last meeting.  If the mayor says we have road funding then my conclusion is there is no real need for developer money to fund roadways.
  • Other factors are at play that help the roadways:
    • The INVEST program has 28 million allocated to the roadways in East Orange County which will help the county roads
    • Hwy 50 is being 6-laned from Dean Road to the Bridge – this will help short-term
    • A study is underway by CFX to extend the 408 to 520 – this will help long-term if approved
    • A study will be performed by MetroPlan next year on this area to determine needs and funding which could help Orange County.

Recent changes in our environment:

  • The area east of the Econ lies between the Econlockhatchee River and the St. Johns River and is the Econlockhatchee Protection Area as labeled on a presentation done by Mr. Vargas about a year ago.  Please review the presentation as it has very pertinent information related to this subject.  Here is the link:  http://fixmyroadway.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/OC_Context_Presentation_ULI_Conservation_Communities-Final.pdf
  • This is also known as the Econ River Basin which is a wildlife corridor.
  • Wildlife have moved into our sub-divisions.  I live in University Estates on McCulloch Road:
    • In the 23 years I have lived here, I never heard about bear until just a couple months ago and there have been multiple sightings.
    • Our deer population has doubled in just the last year or two
    • Animals are being hit by cars much more frequently
  • These are signs that wildlife is running out of room to live and we are on a collision course with nature.
  • What confirmed this was a public comment made by a gentleman to the Seminole County BCC just a little while ago.  He conveyed his experience over the years and it reinforced everything I am seeing.  It was very sad.  I sent you the link already and hope you had a chance to view it but if not, here is the video link:  https://youtu.be/bitqAEL9Czs

I firmly believe every land owner has a right to go through the process of re-zoning as defined by the law and in a way this has held me back from opposing development as it is part of our American dream.  However, nothing says the process has to remain as is and when Attorney Voss explained what Sarasota was doing, it felt right.  I think it is highly appropriate that considering how vital this area is to the well-being of not only the animals but us too, it is not out of the question to ask that the voting structure be changed for this area.

I want “A unanimous vote of the BCC for any zoning changes East of the Econ”, plain and simple.  I know this is a long email with a lot of information but this is a very important subject and I think you need as much information and facts as possible.   I hope to see you on Thursday evening.

Regards,

RJ Mueller

 

 

 

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11/30/2015 – Development has to be done different in East Orange County

East Orange County is changing and from my observation change has been exponential over the past few years.  Because of how fast our environment is changing, my position on some important issues has also changed.  At first I was fully against the Lake Pickett developments because Orange County had no plan for infrastructure.  Since then Orange County has been working hard to find ways to improve the roadway system in East Orange County and the money from the development would help fix the issues so I was neither for or against the developments and my position was that if the developments were approved they could only be approved if there was minimal impact to the residents who lived in the area and the roads were fixed.  But now we have a new challenge that is caused another rethink.  It is the dramatic impact to wildlife.  You hear people stand up and talk about the environment and I see eyes roll back, another “tree hugger!”  I’m not that and not quite a “city-slicker” either but if I, with my limited experience in the outdoors, can see what is coming, that means something is coming and it is not good.  I think we are reaching a critical pivot point and depending on how some decisions are made will decide the fate of the Econ River Basin.

Here are clues from my personal observation living inside the Urban Service area in the sub-division of University Estates:

  • We have never seen bear in University Estates until just recently and we have now seen two different ones
  • We have at least twice as many deer as we have had in the past and they walk freely through our yards
  • The number of dead animals being hit by cars has risen

Then I watched the Seminole County Board of County Commissioner meeting video regarding Legacy Pointe and a resident who lives off Old Lockwood spoke during public comment.  His observations over the years matched mine so there was a tremendous impact on me.  His comment is in the video above for you to watch.

This caused me to really take a hard look at the map of our area from a different point of view.  I looked to see what undeveloped land is left for our four footed friends to live.  And you know what.  There is not much left on this side of the Econ.  In fact I was surprised to see that houses are built almost down to the river with very little buffer.  This was very disturbing.

On Old Lockwood road there are two small developments that are being built but they have displaced more undeveloped land and taken homes from the animals who live there pushing them into smaller and smaller spaces.

So what’s left.  West of the Econ is built out and very little undeveloped land is left.  If you look at the map, there is some undeveloped land at UCF but not much anywhere else.  That leaves land east of the Econ.  We should be thankful that there is the Econlockhatchee Sandhills Conservation Area but it is only 700 acres in comparison to Lake Pickett North and Lake Pickett South which is 2,800 acres of undeveloped land.  Lake Pickett South has been transmitted and is yet to be approved and if approved will take half of the undeveloped land.  If Lake Pickett South is approved the rest will be developed and displace the animals who live in this area.  How will all those animals be able to live in 700 acres?  This looks to me like a collision between man and beast as people in Northwest Orange County are experiencing now with the bears.

Where does that leave LPS and LPN?  Am I now opposed to these development?  No, but I do think the way these developments are built should certainly make the displacement of animals a priority considering these lands are the only ones left for animals to live.

How should Lake Pickett North be built and what does any of this have to do with traffic seeing the focus of this site is traffic?  Here is some food for thought.  We really need to start thinking all together differently about how people live and travel.  Everyone wants a house and usually a big one with a nice lawn in a nice sub-division.  Granted this is changing as houses are being built with smaller lawns but they are stilled sprawled out and big.  And in my situation, I can’t walk anywhere; I am forced to drive.  Even riding a bike is hard as the roads aren’t built for bikes.  And now we are going to do it all over again with these developments.  We are going to build a subdivision that is sprawled out and not only that one that forces the residents to drive for groceries or just about everything they need.  This just feels very wrong.

With so much emphasis on mass transit and walkable communities, maybe we are missing the boat.   Maybe there is an opportunity to do something different and better and at the same time preserve more land for animals.  Shouldn’t new developments be built with mass transit in mind?  Should developments that are dependent on UCF and the companies surrounding it have some sort of dedicated mass transit or car pool sharing built in?  Maybe all communities should have a small town center so people can walk for groceries?  Maybe houses should be closer together leaving more open land to preserve the habitat for animals.  Maybe the time of large houses with big lots in sprawling sub-divisions should be over?

By instituting some of these ideas, we could cut down on the number of cars on the road and not have to always be behind the curve with infrastructure.

I believe we are at a crossroad in East Orange County and these developments are the pivot point.  Will we continue to do what we have always done and after reaching a critical turning point not only displace the animals but much worse?  Will we continue to create a conflict between man and beast or will we find a way to ensure the survival of all species that live in Florida.  The choice is ours.

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