Can Orange fight land grab by Osceola toll agency?

Can Orange fight land grab by Osceola toll agency?

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ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35 ORLANDO) - The Osceola Expressway Authority wants to build an extension to the Osceola Parkway, and to make it happen, they may take land in Orange County without asking for permission. Commissioners in Orange County heard an earful on Tuesday from residents like Amy Stone, but they may not be able to legally do anything about it.

"We are coming out strongly and adamantly against this expressway project coming in any way shape or form through the Eagle Creek subdivision," said Stone.

The Osceola Expressway Authority was created by state statute and most of the board believes ambiguity in the statute allows them to take land in Orange County for that extension. Homeowner-turned-activist Ben Purdum is irate that his home could be on the line.

"I moved here to Florida, and to think that there's been a commission that's been appointed like this that can do whatever they want to do, and the Orange County commissioners have no say whatsoever is just, I can't even believe this exists in America," he said.

The Osceola Expressway Authority is not even an elected board, as all of the members are appointed by the governor and the Osceola County Commission.  Orange County Commissioner Fred Brummer apologized to his fellow commissioners for not noticing the ability to take land in the original legislation to create the authority, even though he was not in the Legislature at the time.

"We need to talk to the governor. We need to to talk to House Speaker-Elect Crisafulli, Senate President Elect Gardiner, whether or not we need to ask for a special session of the Legislature in order to have some impact," Brummer said.

Mayor Teresa Jacobs and the Orange County Commission are trying to help residents not get run over by this new toll road.

"I would suggest first that we start with some private conversations," said Jacobs.

Attorney and State Senator David Simmons issued an opinion that Osceola's Expressway Authority does not have the ability to take land in a neighboring county.  Orange County Commissioners hope he is accurate.

The Osceola Parkway extension is still in the planning stages, so there is time to work on a deal, or file a lawsuit.

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