In a 4-3 vote, commissioners decided to side against developers of the "Sustany" project and join rural residents who say the development would fundamentally change the character of east Orange County and create traffic delays. Previously, commissioners had voted several times in favor of Sustany as well as The Grow, a nearby project that plans to build 2,078 residential units in the area.
"I just can’t ignore the voices of the people," says Commissioner Victoria Siplin, who became the deciding vote when she chose to side with Mayor Teresa Jacobs and Commissioners Pete Clarke and Jennifer Thompson. "I can't ignore the fact of what the residents are feeling, what they're expressing."
Residents had asked the commission to delay Tuesday's vote until Emily Bonilla replaces incumbent District 5 Commissioner Ted Edwards in December. Bonilla, an environmentalist, beat Edwards during last week's election for the seat, campaigning as much against Edwards as against both The Grow and Sustany.
Edwards had previously said the developments would help improve the area. During the meeting, Bonilla asked her future colleagues to "respect the will of the people here today."
In a stunning reversal, Orange County commissioners voted to reject a development east of the Econlockhatchee River that would have added 1,999 homes to the area and a potential bridge over the river.