FOUR CORNERS – The area known as Four Corners got its nickname because it’s located where four counties come together, and also because this spot once known mainly for citrus groves has grown tremendously in the past decade, luring in plenty of new residential and commercial development.
It probably has grown fast enough, businessman Sonny Buoncervello said, that it’s time for Four Corners to become its own city – and incorporate.
Bouncervello, a Realtor in Celebration and Harmony, said the area along U.S. 192 and U.S. 27 where the counties of Lake, Orange, Osceola and Polk counties come together has so many residents now that incorporation should be on the table.
Bouncervello is also a member of the Four Corners Area Council, a group of business owners who operate in the Four Corners area. When the council held its monthly meeting this morning at the Maingate Lakeside Resort in Four Corners, one of the subjects they discussed was setting goals for 2012. Buoncervello said one of those goals should be exploring the possibility of incorporating the area as a city, which he said would excite businesses in the region.
“We need more membership, and the easiest tool you could give us is you’re exploring incorporation,” he said.
But other members of the council cautioned that incorporation would not only be difficult to achieve, but likely very controversial, even divisive.
“It is heavy, heavy, heavy lifting,” said Marc Reicher, the council’s former chairman. “You have to have a concensus on this first.”
Council member Anna Kestner noted that the community of Poinciana already went through the incorporation process, and she said it turned into a disaster for them.
Poinciana is divided between two counties, Osceola and Polk. With more than 80,000 residents in its 10 villages, Poinciana has a larger population than some small cities like St. Cloud.
The community’s homeowners association, the Association of Poinciana Villages, commissioned a study by the University of Central Florida on incorporation, but when area lawmakers held public hearings on the issue, so many opponents turned out that legislators never filed an incorporation bill with the full Legislature.
“It completely divided the community of Poinciana,” Kestner said. “Opponents brought up all these issues that people didn’t want to hear, like taxes going up to pay for new services.”
With the economy still struggling, Kestner said, it makes no sense to bring up the issue of incorporation today, when it would mean that Four Corners’ residents – who now pay taxes to the county for services – would also have to pay municipal taxes if the area becomes a city.
“Now is not the time to be talking about this,” Kestner said.
Council member Scott Smith said incorporation isn’t as important as giving Four Corners a sense of identity, which is possible without the area becoming its own municipality.
“All of our goals should revolve around two things,” Smith said. “How are we being a voice for the Four Corners area, and how do we bring a sense of community and definition to Four Corners.”
Reicher added, “If you say raising community awareness is a goal, you can stuff a lot under that.”
Reicher noted that when the Four Corners Area Council formed back in 2004, the community still had a lot of growing to do. But in the past seven years, the council helped develop the first Four Corners street map, hosted a municipal summit to bring together the leaders of all four counties to talk about improving services here, and hosted community events like a Gator Cook Off and the upcoming Taste of Four Corners celebration, which will be on Friday, Sept. 23 at Formosa Gardens Village.
Four Corners has made a lot of progress, Reicher said, and the issues confronting the area today are different from 2004.
“It was a lot easier to talk about goals when police and fire weren’t even talking to one another,” Reicher said. “We’ve come a long way from that.”
Smith agreed, and said “The area is starting to get a little more defined.”
Gene Terrico, the vice chairman of the council, said that so far, their goals for 2012 include supporting efforts to change the name of U.S. 192 from Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway to something more tourist friendly like Vacation Way, updating the Four Corners street map, and finding new ways to promote the area.
He also said they should continue to lend financial support to charitable non-profit agencies like the Green Bag Project, a program based in ChampionsGate that collects donated food for needy families in this area.
“It’s a major support to have not just the name support, but the dollar support, too,” Terrico said.
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