Orlando annexes part of Orange County development known as 'Sunbridge' into city limits

Orlando City Council voted Monday to annex over 6,000 acres in eastern Orange County into the city limits.

Orange County leaders wanted the city to hold off on annexation, so they sent an objection letter on March 6 and appeared at both city council meetings to voice their disagreement.

The annexed land is along State Road 528 and Innovation and Sunbridge Parkways. The annexation is happening in two phases. The second phase will be before Orlando City Council in the coming weeks.

Tavistock, the developer behind Orlando's Lake Nona, will develop most of the annexed land. Plans call for 7,370 residential units, 5.5 million square feet of office space, and 490 hotel rooms.

"As far as next steps for Phase I of the Annexation, the City will review and approve permit applications pursuant to current County approvals until City approvals are adopted," a city spokesperson said. "The City will initiate a Future Land Use Map amendment for the properties, and the owner will initiate a Planning Development zoning application."

The county shared several concerns with the city regarding annexation. One was the creation of what the county called a "finger-like" portion of the city several miles from the nearest Orlando police and fire stations.

"This project could’ve been a great opportunity to work together to ensure the best for both future and existing residents of Orange County and the City of Orlando," Orange County Deputy County Administrator Jon Weiss said to the council.

The city expects to pay $1.2 million for a temporary fire station this fiscal year. A permanent station is in the works just four miles away. Sunbridge plans to make room for a fire station on site.

Estimated property tax revenues top over $2 million, with figures expected to grow with development. The city said a growing tax base benefits everyone in both Orlando and Orange County.

Phase two of annexation is another 5,000 acres south of the Beachline Expressway. The city said it’s trying to attract innovation companies to the area because of the land’s proximity to the Space Coast and Orlando International Airport.

Orange County District 4 Commissioner Maribel Gomez Cordero told FOX 35 in a statement before first reading her biggest concern is public safety.

"This will create inconsistencies, with some future residents living in the county and others in the city," Gomez Cordero said. "The nearest Orlando police station is over nine miles away, while the nearest Orlando Fire station is over eight miles away. This creates potentially concerning conditions, with some residents of the same community experiencing lower levels of service as compared to their neighbors in the unincorporated sections of Sunbridge."

An Orange County spokesperson told FOX 35 that the Board of County Commissioners must decide whether to challenge annexation.