At a council meeting Monday, protesters of a proposed development compared the city’s actions to those of officials presiding over the water crisis in Flint, MI.
The item before the city was the first reading of an ordinance for the annexation of a 9.6-acre plot at 3604 West New Hampshire Street from the county into the city. That would allow the development of two radio communication towers.
The project is near another that has drawn the ire of residents, Princeton Oaks, a one-million square foot warehouse proposed to come to a predominantly black area near Mercy Drive and W.D. Judge Drive.
The developments, according to opponents of the projects, would also damage the water supply to nearby rivers connected to the wetlands.
The two protesters appealing that ordinance at the meeting were National Action Network president Lawanna Gelzer and Dr. Wanda Jones, who lives in the area. Both also protested the Princeton Oaks project at previous city council meetings.
Jones said the city hadn’t gone through the proper channels of analyzing the environmental impact on the wetlands or animal life in the area and hadn’t followed any of the right protocol.
“The assessment was biased and not accurate,” she said. “There needs to be a third party to come and assess this in an unbiased way.”
Gelzer repeated comments from her past statements at city council meetings, attacking the city’s choice to locate the project there and record of putting others like it in areas that affected black communities. She alleged that the city was breaking its own rules and acting in the interest of a private corporation and not its own citizens, which she compared to the Flint water crisis.
“When will it stop?” she asked. “The urban communities are saying ‘this affects us.’ You should side with the people and not just one corporation. It’s Flint, Michigan here — it’s about the water, and about following the rules in place.”
The city heard their arguments and decided to reject their appeal. City Planning Division Manager Dean Grandin said there would be wetlands left over for water retention and runoff. That way, houses nearby wouldn’t be flooded by heavy rainfall, as many residents fear would happen after paving over the grounds.
Grandin claimed 20 percent of the wetlands in the area would remain untouched.
Councilwoman Regina Hill and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer had no comment regarding the comparisons to Flint’s water crisis or the allegations of the racial component in Princeton Oak’s location.