New developments in Orange County face opposition

Nearly 3,000 acres of land located north and south of Lake Picket Road in East Orange County could eventually become two new developments.

The land was zoned as "rural," prior to a controversial vote on July 12 by commissioners to amend the comprehensive land use plan allowing major developments.  It passed on a 4 to 3 vote.  The land is now at the center of a hard-fought tug-of-war between developers and some county leaders and some residents and other county leaders.

The land sits in County District 5, which is represented by Commissioner Ted Edwards,

"It's difficult when you have citizens complain that traffic is horrible, but when you try to fix it, they say it's not that bad," said Edwards.  "We are getting a mixed message."

Edwards and developers and county planners presented the northern Lake Picket Project to a crowd of about 100 at Tuesday's community meeting.  Called "Sustany," it would have two homes per acre -- no condominiums or townhomes -- nearly 2,000 in all.

Part of the deal would include road improvements, such as more lanes on already congested Lake Pickett and State Road 50.

But those against the development argue more homes would only make traffic worse, in spite of the proposed road widening.   At a meeting regarding the project, one resident spoke to the crowd and said, "It will be hell on wheels having traffic converge during rush hour onto that narrow bridge."

Sustany is one of two recently proposed developments.  "The Grow" would be developed south of Lake Pickett, with nearly 3,000 homes centered around a working farm and edible community gardens.  Touted by supporters as an "agrihood" that would add value and charm to the community, many here say it would be nothing more than urban sprawl dressed up.

Another resident stood up at Tuesday's meeting and sad, "We made a choice to live in an area that is rural.  We have spoken, uou have not listened to us Mr. Edwards.  This s your last election!"

Edwards says, "It's had to fathom." 

The final vote on the southern development, The Grow, is September 20.   There will be another meeting regarding Sustany scheduled for September 21.

The planning commission will vote on Sustany in October and commissioners will vote in November.