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ORLANDO-Orange County commissioners are expected to vote this month on a unique $20 million land-buying proposal advanced by county chairman Rich Crotty. A former county property appraiser, Crotty wants to save thousands of acres of pristine land from commercial development, staffers in his office tell GlobeSt.com.

Crotty’s Green Place project would be funded from the public services tax, a 10% charge on electric, water and natural gas levied in unincorporated areas. The tax money would be used to issue $20 million in new revenue bonds.

Crotty couldn’t be reached at GlobeSt.com’s deadline to learn how many acres Green Place plans to buy. But metro Orlando industrial real estate brokers who have handled similar environmental-oriented land transactions tell GlobeSt.com $20 million won’t go too far in building a land bank.

“Even if the county could get some of the dirt for as low as $2,500 per acre or about six cents per sf, that would only purchase about 8,000 acres,” a broker who has advised the county in the past tells GlobeSt.com.

But it would be a start, local environmental groups tell GlobeSt.com. Staffers in Crotty’s office confirm the chairman plans to have various environmental groups select the land sites for acquisition. “That would also be a first for this type of program,” a staffer in the county’s planning department tells GlobeSt.com.

As an initial purchase, environmental groups already have identified 9,000 acres in the Wekiva River Protection Area. Other sites are the Shingle Creek drainage basin, Boggy Creek drainage basin, Lake Hart drainage basin, Econlockhatchee River drainage basin and the St. Johns River drainage basin.

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