Proposed Changes to Orange County Code, Chapter 8 – Boats and Water Safety Ordinance UPDATE 3/25/2022
At the March 22 Orange County Board of County Commissioners Work Session, the determination was made to cancel the April 5th public hearing regarding this issue. This was done so that County Officials can gain a better understanding of why this is being requested and if this is the best avenue to resolve the concerns surrounding Bird Island.
Please direct any and all questions to Tara.Urbanik@ocfl.net or 407-836-1545. As Bird Island is not under the Town’s jurisdiction, Orange County is the best place to address your comments/concerns.
**Proposed Changes to Orange County Code Chapter 8 – Boat & Water Safety Ordinance** As you may recall, on September 1, 2020, a District 1 Commissioner’s Report concerning Egret Island (aka Bird Island) in Lake Butler was presented to the Board. Based on safety concerns associated with certain activities near the island, EPD was directed do the necessary research and coordination to bring back proposed changes to the ordinance. EPD has coordinated with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), the Orange County Sheriff’s Office (OCSO), and other stakeholders to discuss proposed changes to the code. At the work session, staff will present background and status of a two-phase effort to update the ordinance. In Phase 1, a new section designating a swim area and vessel-exclusion zone in a portion of Lake Butler adjacent to Egret Island will be proposed. Staff will identify the process and timeline of the update effort, discuss stakeholder comments received during Phase 1, and proposed next steps. This work session will allow EPD to obtain Board direction prior to coming back to the Board for the Phase 1 adoption hearing later in spring 2022. Later this year, EPD anticipates that more extensive updates to Chapter 8 will be brought to the Board for consideration as Phase 2 of the code update. These changes are needed in order to bring the code up-to-date with current FWC requirements, which is required in order to make changes to existing boating safety zones throughout the county moving forward. EPD and OCSO have identified the need for modifications to some existing boating safety zones and to establish additional boating safety zones. Additionally, the majority of the existing language in the code has been superseded by state statute and is no longer enforceable by law enforcement, which occasionally leads to confusion for the boating public.