Small town goes to war with big developers trying to destroy stunning and protected rural pastureland with housing estates: 'It's off limits!'

Ferndale in Florida is known for its rolling pastureland and wildlife resourcesResidents are now confronting what they feared for generations: developersSurrounding towns are starting a war against big developers buying the land 

A small Florida town has gone head-to-head with big developers attempting to destroy their stunning and protected rural pastureland with housing estates.

The town of Ferndale in Lake County, Florida, is known for its vast oasis of rolling pastureland, serving as a sanctuary for wildlife and protected natural resources.

Sitting on the western shore of Lake Apopka, it is home to just over 600 people, many of whom inherited 'generational land.'

It's remained a rare piece of untouched land offering a glimpse into the beauty of 'old Florida,' up until now - as residents are beginning to confront the very scenario which they've long-dread and tried to avoid for generations: developers.

It's remained a rare piece of untouched land offering a glimpse into the beauty of 'old Florida,' up until now - as residents are beginning to confront the very scenario which they've long-dread and tried to avoid for generations: developers

It's remained a rare piece of untouched land offering a glimpse into the beauty of 'old Florida,' up until now - as residents are beginning to confront the very scenario which they've long-dread and tried to avoid for generations: developers

'In my eyes it's off limits,' one long-time resident, Lynn Riffle, who owns a 245-acre family-owned property in the town, told News 6

'In my eyes it's off limits,' one long-time resident, Lynn Riffle, who owns a 245-acre family-owned property in the town, told News 6

'In my eyes it's off limits,' one long-time resident, Lynn Riffle, who owns a 245-acre family-owned property in the town, told News 6.

Her property, which she refers to as the 'heart of Ferndale' is facing ongoing development in nearby Minneola, changing the 'landscape' and 'ambiance' of her neighborhood.

'I'll do everything I can and voice as much as I can to keep it that way,' she said.

'The growth is happening so fast that it's spinning everybody's heads,' Riffle said to News 6. 'We have 40 acres that back up to the preserve that we don't want to see anything happen to.'

The town of Ferndale in Lake County, Florida, is known for its vast oasis of rolling pastureland, serving as a sanctuary for wildlife and protected natural resources

The town of Ferndale in Lake County, Florida, is known for its vast oasis of rolling pastureland, serving as a sanctuary for wildlife and protected natural resources

'We see Minneola coming in with four to six homes per acre and zero lot lines,' Riffle said. 'This is not what this area ever intended for, and we want to keep it that way.

That's why the residents have banded together in an effort to extend an 'Interlocal Service Boundary Agreement' between neighboring towns of Minneola, Montverde, Clermont and Lake County.

Lake County is bordered to the west by the city of Minneola, to the southeast by the town of Montverde, and to the northeast by Lake Apopka.

They hope the agreement will serve as protection for Ferndale against the continuation of property development.

The contract, which has been in place since 2010, expires in 2030.

Riffle expressed urgency to News 6, saying she wants something signed 'sooner rather than later' based on the rapid development taking over Ferndale, and surrounding towns.

That's why the residents have banded together in an effort to extend an 'Interlocal Service Boundary Agreement' between neighboring towns of Minneola, Montverde, Clermont and Lake County

That's why the residents have banded together in an effort to extend an 'Interlocal Service Boundary Agreement' between neighboring towns of Minneola, Montverde, Clermont and Lake County

'I'm going to be very frank and direct,' Lake County Commissioner Sean Parks said. 'I don't understand why anybody wouldn't support extending the agreement for another 13 years because this has always been planned to be rural.'

'I'm very concerned about what we're hearing now about potential development threats coming in and totally changing the character and quality of life of this beautiful area,' Parks added.

'The people of Montverde don't want anything to change,' Wynkoop said. 'We're very strict about two homes per acre.'

'Unfortunately, since the first reading of the extension, our city attorney has been contacted by counsel for a large landowner,' Kelley said in a text message. 'They are currently trying to sort out their concerns. Because of this, the final reading has been tabled to give time so they can be addressed before it comes back.'

This comes as Palm Beach longtime residents also put up a fight to preserve the island's little remaining middle to upper middle class character as rich developers seek to tear down the current standings to build luxury condos.

This comes as Palm Beach longtime residents also put up a fight to preserve the island's little remaining middle to upper middle class character as rich developers seek to tear down the current standings to build luxury condos. (The coast of Palm Beach, Florida in May 2021)

This comes as Palm Beach longtime residents also put up a fight to preserve the island's little remaining middle to upper middle class character as rich developers seek to tear down the current standings to build luxury condos. (The coast of Palm Beach, Florida in May 2021)

The Ambassador Hotel, a three-star property in Palm Beach that was bought by two developers in 2022. They plan to demolish the Ambassador outfit the new luxury multifamily complex with rooftop decks, fountains and at least 10 swimming pools

The Ambassador Hotel, a three-star property in Palm Beach that was bought by two developers in 2022. They plan to demolish the Ambassador outfit the new luxury multifamily complex with rooftop decks, fountains and at least 10 swimming pools

Billionaire investor Paul Tudor Jones' sprawling $71 million estate in Palm Beach

Billionaire investor Paul Tudor Jones' sprawling $71 million estate in Palm Beach

At the center of the feud between locals and developers is the Ambassador Hotel. Cain International and OKO Group bought the Ambassador and an apartment building across the street for $147 million in 2022 with the intent to demolish the hotel.

Their plan is to replace dated building with 'the most ultra-luxury multifamily project likely that the town will ever see,' Bloomberg reported.

The three-star Ambassador is already besieged by condos to its north, south and west, and residents feel that a new building that exclusively caters to the uber-wealthy is unwarranted.

Complaints have been filed about what the developers wanted to do with the property in an attempt to grind the process to a halt.

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