Fight for Lake Roberts preservation hits Web

Local Shelby Kolar’s petition to save woods and wetlands around Walker’s Pond Rural Settlement has more than 500 signatures.

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  • | 4:35 a.m. February 18, 2016
The gopher tortoise is one species petition signers want to protect.
The gopher tortoise is one species petition signers want to protect.
  • West Orange Times & Observer
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WEST ORANGE COUNTY  For now, the enclave of unincorporated Orange County near the convergence of Winter Garden, Ocoee and Windermere contains Lake Roberts and, to the lake’s east, Walker’s Pond Road, part of Walker’s Pond Rural Settlement.

At the end of that road is a significant portion of woods and wetlands that stretches north to Stoneybrook West Parkway, which locals and hundreds of supporters around the world are hoping to keep so.

Shelby Kolar, who is familiar with the potential for green spaces to be developed based on residence in Windermere Country Club less than a mile away, started a petition titled, “Save The Woods and Wetlands of Lake Roberts and Walker's Pond Rural Settlement.” She and her comrades hope the addressees — the Board of County Commissioners — will agree that the area of about 40 acres is important to preserve as one of few remaining green spaces in the immediate vicinity.

“We want the woods and wetlands to remain untouched and Walker's Pond Rural Settlement to remain a rural settlement, which means only one house per acre, not the multiple houses per acre that the developer is proposing,” Kolar said. “No one who lives in the area wants a subdivision on that property. The only person who would benefit is the developer.”

Kolar names Robert Zlatkiss as the potential developer in her petition; he did not respond to attempts at contact for this story. In her petition, Kolar wrote of Zlatkiss having intentions to get the land rezoned and annexed into Winter Garden to build a subdivision, including lakefront homes on Lake Roberts and possibly a road from the parkway south through wetlands.

But Kolar would prefer some form of preserve, perhaps even to a formal extent similar to Oakland and Tibet-Butler preserves. Still, the willingness to allow one-acre lots remains, which could still be a possible compromise that still protects a breadth of local wildlife, she said.

“There’s plenty of different species of birds — I know people have seen eagles flying over there in the past,” Kolar said. “I know at one point there was a nest … gopher tortoises; just a lot of variety of wildlife, and … just all the little pockets of wild areas are being developed, and we would like for the county to consider that the wildlife need places to live.”

This is not just for wildlife but to avoid overdevelopment and problems such as coyotes and other species being pushed out of the woods and into the streets when they have nowhere else to go, she said.

“I’m not opposed to all development,” she said. “I want our little area to remain quiet and peaceful. We need our little pockets of green space here and there to be protected. I just hope Orange County officials will consider that and do the right thing.”

To view the petition, visit


Contact Zak Kerr at [email protected].


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