Seminole County Commissioner Proposes Land Acquisition Program

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Florida. – As Central Florida continues to grow, some local leaders have said there is land that should not be developed. Seminole County Commissioners are considering two proposals to conserve natural lands.

“As Seminole County continues to grow – as Central Florida continues to grow – you need to find areas, large areas, for water recharge so that the water is protected. It is preserved. It will be clean water,” Commissioner Lee Constantine said.

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At a meeting on Tuesday, Constantine presented his suggestion to create a natural land acquisition program called “Seminole Forever.” The program is modeled after the state’s “Florida Forever” conservation and recreation land acquisition program.

“It has the same basic principles. One of them (is) to protect land use and water resources for future generations,” Constantine said.

Constantine said that, like the state program, “Seminole Forever” would create a fund that would be used to acquire and improve properties. The county would then create a committee that would prioritize the most valuable land based on criteria such as groundwater recharge.

Constantine added that the money would come from several revenue streams already included in the budget, and could include other sources, such as donations, conservation easements and other tools to put land into conservation. .

“We all want to conserve the land. Everyone says it’s a priority, but every time we want to buy more, we ask citizens to come forward and add new taxes to pay. Well, if it’s a priority, then we should find it in the budget,” Constantine said.

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Constantine said conservation is a priority for the county and its constituents, noting that during the pandemic, natural land use has increased 700%.

He also mentioned that land preservation sustains the growing population, as land conservation is one of the best ways to protect our water resources.

“I think it’s just a natural choice, and, you know, our monocle is the natural choice,” Constantine said.

Many at Tuesday’s meeting told commissioners they want natural lands preserved in Seminole County, though they may differ on how to achieve that goal.

Another proposal from a citizens’ group to county commissioners asks them to let voters decide whether they want to fund future natural land acquisitions. They want the county to hold a referendum on the November ballot to ask voters for a temporary property tax.

The proposed voting language is below:

Constantine said his proposal could fund natural land acquisitions without having to wait for a ballot measure this fall.

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At the end of Tuesday’s meeting, Constantine proposed that the county take the outline of the “Seminole Forever” plan he presented and write an actual ordinance for the board to consider in the future. The motion passed, moving the proposal to the next stage.

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