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Orange County changes stance on toll road, more than 3 years after Split Oak amendment passed

Orange County Commissioner Emily Bonilla offered a motion changing the county's stance on a toll road through Split Oak Forest.
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Orange County via YouTube
Orange County Commissioner Emily Bonilla offered a motion changing the county's stance on a toll road through Split Oak Forest.

Orange County commissioners decided to take a charter amendment approved by voters more than three years ago into account and oppose building the Osceola Parkway Extension through Split Oak Forest.

In 2019, the County Commission resolved to support the Central Florida Expressway Authority's toll road, which would slice through the southern end of the nearly 1,700-acre conservation area.

Then, in November 2020, residents voted overwhelming to protect the forest. Despite that, county staff have continued to act on the earlier resolution as the county's position on the toll road.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission manages the forest and will take up the issue next Tuesday during a meeting in Orlando.

Before then, Commissioner Emily Bonilla wanted to make sure the county changed its message.

"So I feel that this board should direct staff to state that we no longer support this toll road through Split Oak Forest because of the vote," she said. "86% of the voters voted not to do that."

Her measure passed 6 to 1 with Commissioner Christine Moore voting against it.

Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.
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