The Central Florida Tourism Oversight District Board of Supervisors appointed by Governor Ron DeSantis has officially voted to void Disney’s final agreement with the previous Reedy Creek Improvement District board.
During their Wednesday meeting, the Board of Supervisors declared the Development Agreement and Declaration of Restrictive Covenants null and void. They cited a failure to follow proper procedure for comprehensive plan amendments and pointed to multiple documents missing exhibits. They also previously stated that Reedy Creek did sufficiently inform the public and affected parties of the agreement.
In a document released before this meeting outlining their reasons for declaring the agreement void, the Board stated the following:
Prior to the January 25 and February 8 Board meetings, the District published notices of intent to consider a development agreement in the Orlando Sentinel. The notices were published on January 18 and 27, respectively. The Orlando Sentinel is a newspaper of general circulation and readership in both Orange and Osceola Counties. Such notices published in the newspaper did not fully inform the public or other property owners of the purposes or contents of the development agreement and how other property owners and the taxpayers of the District were affected by such proposed agreement.
The document also claimed “the benefits of the development agreement are entirely one-sided,” and “the District receives nothing in return.” The Board claims that the only potential benefit to the District in the development agreement is that, when Disney obligates the District to construct public facilities that require land that Disney owns, Disney will not “request payment for the land in excess of fair market value.”
The last page of the legislative findings, point 92, states, “Neither the development agreement nor the restrictive covenants are in the best interest of the District or the taxpayers or public, and the Board has no desire to readopt or ratify such instruments.”
If you’d like to read the full document, you can find it here. The information regarding Reedy Creek begins in the section labeled 8.1.
Also during Wednesday’s meeting, Disney Springs business owners expressed concerns about potential tolls and taxes that could negatively affect their businesses.
Disney & Governor DeSantis
Governor DeSantis and The Walt Disney Company initially clashed over the corporation’s opposition to a much-debated and controversial Florida law regarding classroom instruction and discussion on sexual orientation and gender identity in public schools, alongside various other recent state laws and proposals in a similar vein.
Bob Chapek was Chief Executive Officer of Disney at the time and initially remained silent and passive on the issue — until massive internal criticisms from cast members and controversy over Disney’s practice of making hefty political contributions to campaigns and individuals allegedly against their own stated human principles came into focus.
In an apparent act of retribution over Chapek’s expression of dissent, the Governor moved forward with various verbal and legal assaults on Disney, including the attempted dissolution of Reedy Creek and the eventual transfer of power directly under his control. DeSantis argues he is attacking a rather vague perception of something he calls “woke politics,” invading the state. He further says he aims to put the people of Florida first through his actions: “Disney has gotten away with special deals from the state of Florida for way too long. It took a look under the hood to see what Disney has become to truly understand their inappropriate influence.”
The Governor insists he will double down on efforts to punish Disney through methods both in the Legislature and the Central Florida Tourism Oversight Board. Notably, he promised to hike Disney’s hotel taxes and institute tolls on the roads around Walt Disney World Resort property.
The Florida legislature also recently filed a bill that would require state inspections of Walt Disney World Monorails.
Disney’s Support of Reedy Creek
Recently, Disney has taken to their official community outreach site to share their view of the Reedy Creek Improvement District in a new post entitled “The Value of Disney Reedy Creek to Florida.” Take a look at our full coverage here.