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?

http://digitaledition.orlandosentinel.com/infinity/article_share.aspx?guid=de52bf98-07cd-4bf6-a617-a2b0dbd4e168

 

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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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Board of County Commissioners

My first glimpse at the new Orange County Board of County Commissioners

It’s interesting watching the BCC meetings with 4 new board members as the new members try to figure out how things are done and what direction this board will take Orange County.

The first meeting was a short one on Dec 4th as that was the same day the new members were sworn in but the Dec 18th meeting was longer.  Both were interesting.

Affordable housing has come up a couple of times already and is one of the biggest problems this area has. There just isn’t enough affordable housing and Orlando is high among US cities with year-over-year rent increases compounding the problem.

One person used affordable housing as a reason for putting in a 4,000 sq ft, two-story duplex in a single family detached housing neighborhood and another person built an ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit, a mother-in-law home) on their property in a rural settlement and was there asking forgiveness and a variance with one reason being cost of living.  Their daughter lives in the home behind their house with a small child.  Both were approved.  It was surprising that the 4,000 sq ft, two-story duplex was allowed in a single family neighborhood with one-story homes under 2,000 sq ft.

On another note, one of the biggest gripes people have when they go down for public comment on a zoning hearing especially ones that are contentious like Lake Pickett is that the developer gets as much time as they need to state their case but residents only get 3 minutes each.  Mayor Jacobs ran a tight ship and managed the 3 minute rule to the second and sometimes when there were a lot of speakers dropped it to 2 minutes. Then after the parade of residents had their 3 minutes, the lawyer for the development had time to address the concerns of the residents so if the residents were against the development the lawyer used the time to refute what the residents had said.

I was wondering how Mayor Demings was going to handle public comment.

Most people who don’t follow our local government won’t find this interesting but to me a most amazing thing happened at the Dec 18th meeting. Mayor Demings gave the residents the normal 3 minutes and then the lawyer spoke to the residents concerns as usual.  But after that, Mayor Demings asked the residents if they wanted to speak to anything the lawyer had said.  That really surprised me as that has never happened before.  I hope it continues but I just can’t see how it can especially if there are a lot of speakers. Let’s see how long Mayor Demings continues this policy as I think it will become very time consuming.

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