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County votes to kill CR 48 extension plan

Opponents of the County Road 48 extension project came looking for a timeout. They got a victory. In an unexpected move, the County Commission voted Tuesday to kill the proposal to extend CR 48 about four miles from U.S. 41 in Floral City to County Road 581.

Many Floral City residents opposed the project, claiming that increased traffic on CR 48 would harm the historic canopy of oak trees along Orange Avenue, the name for the roadway as it runs through Floral City.

Backed by County Commissioner Chet White, who represents the Floral City district, they came to Tuesday's meeting to ask the commissioners to delay their decision on the project for six months.

"We don't think it's fair to force growth on this historic, small, sleepy town that epitomizes southern grace," said Floral City resident Tom Ritchie.

Along with White and many in the audience, he wore a yellow triangle in the shape of a yield sign that read "Defer 6 months."

The commission voted to postpone a decision for six months.

Then, following a break, Commissioner Wilbur Langley surprised nearly everyone by making a motion to remove the extension from the county's comprehensive plan.

"I think it's just inevitable (that defeat is) going to come six months from now, so why prolong it and spend more money," Langley said.

Commissioners voted unanimously to begin the lengthy comprehensive plan amendment process to eliminate the project formally from the county's future plans.

Before voting, commission chairman Nick Bryant expressed concern that killing projects such as the CR 48 extension eventually may lead to a moratorium on new construction.

Under state growth management laws, local governments must have the roads, utilities and other infrastructure to support any new development.

County planners believed the extension would relieve congestion on U.S. 41 in downtown Inverness by providing an alternate route to I-75.