Fight over proposed toll road in Osceola County

A local group can continue its fight to keep a toll road out of a forest.

Friends of Split Oak Forest won a small battle in Osceola County Court Wednesday. It’s the first in a long fight ahead to stop the road from being built.

There was a celebration in the courtroom after a judge ruled the grassroots group Friends of Split Oak Forest made enough of a case to keep fighting. Their fight is aimed at keeping the Central Florida Expressway from extending a toll road through Split Oak Forest, a conservation area off Narcoossee Road.

Their opponent is the Osceola County Commissioners, who the neighbors say violated Sunshine Laws and never held a public hearing about the road before pledging support.

“It’s simply not fair if we only hear from one side of every issue. We need to hear from all sides,” said Ralf Brookes, the attorney who represents Friends of Split Oak Forest.

The county argued in court Wednesday that the consensus for support was informal and unofficial.

“No decision was made, no vote made, no motion. They merely discussed a project,” said an attorney for the county in court.

The judge ruled against the lawmakers, allowing the case to move forward in court. With one win under their belt, these friends of the forest are feeling more confident than ever. “I don’t pick fights I can’t win,” said Anderson.

The attorney for the county declined to comment after the hearing. A spokesperson with the Central Florida Expressway says it’s still in the early planning stages and it will hold its own public meeting over the summer.