ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — The future of Split Oak Forest is on the ballot in Orange County.
What You Need To Know
- Ballot question seeks to protect Split Oak Forest from development
- Orange, Osceola County Commissioners previously approved highway extension through part of forest
- Read: Orange County 2020 Charter Review Commission Final Report
Ballot Question 2 would amend the charter to prevent county commissioners from doing anything to the land beyond conservation. In essence, the amendment would strengthen a conservation agreement between Orange County, Osceola County and a land trust.
“If we don’t protect our protections, we won’t have them in the future,” explained Valerie Anderson, a volunteer for the Committee to Save Split Oak, which pushed for the ballot question to be included on Election Day.
Earlier this year, commissioners in Orange and Osceola counties had approved the Osceola Parkway Expansion — a 9-mile project from the Central Florida Expressway Authority (CFX) that would impact 160 acres of Split Oak Forest. Construction has been delayed due to the pandemic, but what’s not clear is what will happen to the project if the ballot initiative passes.
A CFX spokesperson would not comment on the ballot measure, only saying they are leaving it up to the voters.
Meanwhile, Osceola County is trying to sue against the ballot measure, arguing this impacts them too. A judge ruled earlier this week there won’t be anymore hearings until both counties go through a dispute resolution.