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Massive Deseret Ranches Development Moves Ahead

Photo courtesy Deseret Ranches
Photo courtesy Deseret Ranches

A proposal for what would be Florida’s biggest land development ever is moving forward.

The state has completed a review of the proposed development in Osceola County and is calling for some changes.

The plan would bring a metropolis nearly twice the size of Orlando to ranchland owned by the Mormon Church.

Charles Lee of Audubon of Florida says it could damage wetlands and deplete water resources, but it’s also an opportunity.

"The opportunity is that you have the chance to plan for the future of 133,000 acres of land and in the process set aside a lot of conservation land in a contiguous action that you wouldn't normally have the chance to do."

The state is recommending changes like protecting smaller wetlands and discouraging low-density sprawl. Osceola County leaders now will consider how to modify the proposal.

Deseret Ranches General Manager Erik Jacobsen is pleased with the state's response.

"While none of the objections require material changes to our plan, they will receive our full attention as we work to resolve each one."

Charles Pattison of 1000 Friends of Florida says some changes should be required rather than suggested.

"Several of these comments should demand more attention, and we'll continue to pursue those as the process continues."

Amy Green covered the environment for WMFE until 2023. Her work included the 2020 podcast DRAINED.