It would appear the only people on a roll in East Orlando are the developers and a backlash is definitely brewing on our side of town!
Anybody whose lived in East Orlando for any appreciable length of time (Con and I have lived here since 2001) knows the traffic woes and congestion resulting from more monster-mega development is a looming disaster. The time spend in traffic commuting almost anywhere has markedly increased and is, in my opinion, the most visible and felt result of our growing urban sprawl.
On Friday, January 18, during evening rush hour, marchers on the south side of Highway 50 at the corner of Lake Pickett Road carried signs with the message, “WANT MORE TRAFFIC – STOP – 10,000 MORE VEHICLES HERE!” and urging motorists to “Sign the Petition to Stop More Traffic Madness!”
Motorists enthusiastically responded with honking horns, waves, occasional shouts, epithets (“F**k this traffic!”) and questions (“What’s going on?” “Where can I get more information?”). The sign-wavers were protesting the construction of a massive new complex of apartment, townhomes and commercial enterprises in East Orlando between South Tanner and Chuluota Road and Highway north to Lake Pickett Road and beyond.
According to the Save East Orlando website (www.SaveEastOrlando.com), the “proposed text amendment change to the current Comprehensive Land Use Plan which creates, RURAL TRANSITION ZONING which will allow residential and commercial development at a higher density and intensity than is currently allowed on the properties being proposed as the developments, ‘LAKE PICKETT NORTH’ and ‘LAKE PICKETT SOUTH.’”
As a 13 year East Orlando resident, I now find the time spent in rush hour traffic to be a shocker. In 2002, it usually took me 12 to 15 minutes to travel the 2.3 miles from Highway 50 and Alafaya to my home on Lake Pickett Road. It now takes 27 to 30 minutes. Morning rush hour is often an adrenal rush. It often requires a drag strip, tire-burning launch out of my driveway to enter the line of backed up traffic on Lake Pickett Road!
The reality is, the line in East Orlando is now drawn between “progress” and “the precipitous decline” of our quality of life and the environment. I’m not saying “NO” to future development. I’m saying residents need to GET VOCAL with elected officials and take ACTION to make growth smart.
Attend planning and Board of County Commissioner meetings, join citizen action groups like Save East Orlando, GET INVOLVED in your community and demand developers and politicians make haste slowly and evaluate the positive and negative impact/consequences of this development in-depth and provide full and honest disclosure.
We need to get beyond politics, money and influence and take advantage of all social and environmental impact assessment tools and make sure we apply the best “smart growth” practices so we can “Save East Orlando!”