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Sierra Club vs. UCF

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Sue Eberle doesn't give up. For nearly a decade, Eberle has battled the University of Central Florida's ongoing expansion, unsuccessfully pushing local and state lawmakers to force UCF to house more students on campus and take its neighbors' wishes into consideration when deciding how to expand.

In January, when UCF's 13 trustees (all appointed by Gov. Jeb Bush) approved the school's 10-year master plan that includes 9,000 more students by 2010, bulldozing a gopher-tortoise preserve to build more Greek housing, a parking garage over the university's arboretum and a 218-acre golf course on land that may be in the Econlockhatchee River's floodplain, it looked like Eberle had lost again [see The end of oversight, Feb. 20]. The statewide Board of Governors abdicated responsibility for overseeing growth plans, paving the way for UCF to do what it pleases.

But Eberle, co-conservation chair of the local Sierra Club, persisted, challenging the university's master plan. On May 5, the two sides met for their first mediation meeting, a nine-hour conference covering the minutia of growth-planning and land-use policy.

It turns out the university is reneging on a long-ago promise to forever preserve its so-called "northwest quadrant" as environmental land because that's the most convenient place to put more sororities, which, by the way, only house a fraction as many students as dorms and do very little to solve the university's student-housing problems.

The two sides meet again May 21. If they can't reach a compromise by June 2, Eberle's complaint goes to the state's Department of Community Affairs and then, possibly, the governor's office.


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