ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Orange County commissioners moved forward with a proposed ordinance and ballot amendment language that would allow voters to decide whether to approve a rural boundary measure — which would protect rural land and help regulate new commercial and residential development. 

According to the Orlando Sentinel, there’s been a constant back and forth on where commercial and residential developments should be allowed throughout the county. 

Right now, commissioners will have county attorneys and other staff look further into the proposed amendment and its legalities before they discuss the measure again at two workshops on June 18 and 19. After that, the matter should ultimately get a public hearing and vote on July 30. 

The proposed amendment must be approved and go to the Orange County Supervisor of Elections by Aug. 20 to appear on the November ballot. 

What You Need To Know

  • Orange County commissioners moved forward with ordinance and amendment to allow voters to decide on rural land protections

  • If it gets the final approval, the measure would make the November ballot for voters to decide

  • The proposed rural boundary would specify what is considered rural and urban areas, which would make it difficult to develop in rural areas in the future
  • Officials have until August to finalize language for the potential measure for the supervisor of elections

Advocates are hoping to add additional rules, essentially making it harder for developers to swoop in and build outside of areas that are already built up, known as “urban areas.”

However, District 5 Commissioner Emily Bonilla said the county would first have to establish what is considered rural and urban land.

“The citizens approached the CRC, Charter Review Commission, about doing a rural boundary,” said Bonilla. “Which then designates the separation of the rural areas and the urban areas, and what that does is give more definition to that line and the difference between those two areas.”

Bonilla said the goal would be to have the proposed measure on the ballot in November for voters to decide.

That's exactly what many residents, including Jennifer Lane, want commissioners to understand. 

“I wanted to make sure our Board of County Commissioners understands that we, as citizens, want the opportunity to vote," Lane said.

Lane lives in Eastwood, a neighborhood near Avalon Park. She said infrastructure in the rural areas near her home where developers have proposed building — like a reclaimed water station — is currently maxed out.

“Everything they would be proposing building in the rural areas is then just going to be adding to what’s already at capacity," Lane said. "There’s not discussion about making that future infrastructure.”