Kristine Forsberg and her family lived in Idaho three years ago and were in search of a new home.
They wanted to move to a place with a similar agriculture community, small town feel and plenty of country land to raise a family.
Forsberg and her husband decided on a bucolic stretch of Osceola County where a rich ranching and farming industry still existed less than an hour away from a big city.
“My son, who is now 17, commented when we moved here the transition was easy because he could still go out to nature, see wildlife and enjoy living in an agricultural community,” Forsberg said.
But the former Idaho resident didn’t go before Osceola County commissioners Monday night to discuss how well her family likes their new home.
She went to speak out against a zoning request – ultimately approved by the board – to change almost five acres in the Narcoossee Road area from agricultural development and conservation land to low density residential.
The land in question sits on the south side of Thompkins Drive and east of North Narcoossee Road. According to the agenda request, the zoning change aligned with the strategic planning goal to “create great neighborhoods for the future.”
Forsberg described the challenges current Narcoossee residents are facing. She talked about the comprise of five-acre parcels in the region and the rapid growth of new housing developments just outside the conservation land where she lives.
“Narcoossee Road has become very difficult for those of us who live there,” said Forsberg, who was later joined by a lifetime resident who echoed her sentiments. “We’ve watched as the gopher tortoises are removed, and the rare plants of the White Sandy Ridges disappear and we’re asking for somebody to care.”
Forsberg said she and other residents have reached out to the state for help to fight new re-zoning ordinances and other changes, but claimed that she and others don’t have enough money to fight the large developers coming in.
She requested the commission consider a moratorium on such zoning changes.
Joyce Miller, a lifelong resident of the area, took the podium next.
“We’re worried about our wildlife, our way of life,” she said.
Miller claimed that development, construction and heavy machinery on the road near her five-acre property actually caused cracks to form on the outside of her home – cracks that took three years to fix.
The resident explained that she’s called the Sheriff’s Office and the county several times about these issues. An officer wrote a report on it and could feel her house shaking when he visited, Miller said. She added that someone from the county also eventually came out to inspect the cracks.
“Now my house is shaking again because they’ve started developing,” Miller said.
She voiced concern about the elimination of animal and plant life in the area, especially plants that Miller claims only grow in what’s known as the White Sandy Ridge area.
“We don’t have much of Osceola County left,” Miller said. “Everyday folks that have lived here all their lives are watching everything be destroyed. We’re heart broken.”
Commission Chairman Fred Hawkins Jr., whose district includes that area, told Forsberg and Miller that he wanted to set up a meeting with them to inform them about what the board has done in the past with moratoriums and explain the urban growth boundary line in the county.
There were no additional questions or comments from other board members.
The zoning request was unanimously approved by the commission.