Nicole Wilson – Lawyer, Environmentalist and Mom
As a licensed attorney, Commissioner Nicole Wilson works in the public interest and has helped individuals and non-profit environmental organizations navigate local, state and federal laws. Nicole believes that equal rights for all people must be defended and is committed to working on behalf of the underserved members of our community.
Nicole was born and raised in Gainesville, Florida and moved to Central Florida over 20 years ago. Nicole received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Human Services from Mercer University, and law degree from Barry University School of Law. Her legal studies included a concentration on environmental and Earth law, and she gained practice experience in Barry Law’s Environmental and Earth Law Clinic and Advanced Clinic she went on to be named Associate Editor of the Environmental and Earth Law Journal and was awarded an Honors Certificate in Environmental and Earth Law.
What My District Means to Me
As a Florida native, I have always treasured this state’s natural beauty. Florida’s wildlife and natural landscapes are an inspiration not only to myself, but to the millions of people who call Florida home. Growing up in Florida surrounded by nature is what inspired me to pursue and obtain a degree in environmental law. As a lawyer and now as County Commissioner, I aim to preserve the natural beauty of my home and hope that others who come to Florida will have the chance to do the same.
When my husband and I moved to District 1 over 2o years ago, we were amazed that such vibrant metropolitan communities could be enmeshed so closely with natural beauty and open spaces. Since moving to District 1, I have watched our community grow while struggling to maintain its delicate balance with nature. As County Commissioner for District 1 my goal is to champion for smart growth – balancing the sustainable development of our economy while respecting the limits of our natural resources.
I treasure the fact that our district’s people are just as diverse and beautiful as our natural surroundings. With differences in people’s race, ethnicity, language, gender identity, and income, I am challenged to make decisions that benefit all of those who reside here. Every day, I’m driven by the notion that I am working as an elected official for the people. The well-being of my constituents and all Orange County residents is a priority. I strive to be transparent, available and to listen to my constituents’ concerns; for without you, I would not be here.
Priding itself on being able to preserve its undeveloped and rural status, the Lake Avalon Rural Settlement attracts residents seeking a slower pace of life with a focus on Central Florida’s wildlife and natural landscapes. Orange County’s rural communities like Lake Avalon are important to the County’s quality of life, history, and lifestyle. To preserve these community assets, the County’s Rural Settlement designation establishes policies and corresponding land uses that retain the rural characters of these communities. In West Orange County, the Lake Avalon community was designated as a rural settlement by the Orange County Board of County Commissioners in May 2004. The Lake Avalon Rural Settlement designation will help to ensure that this community’s legacy remains in place, while simultaneously maintaining and enhancing the quality of life for Lake Avalon residents.
The Lake Avalon Rural Settlement has residential properties varying in density from one residence per acre to one residence for every five acres. Limited Neighborhood, commercial and office uses are allowed in the rural settlement to maintain the balance between supporting the community’s residents and preserving the rural charm that they enjoy. The area’s low densities support Orange County’s goal of providing for housing diversity. With its history dating from the 1920’s, the Lake Avalon community is a cornerstone of West Orange County.
The Dr. Phillips community located in unincorporated southwest Orange County, Florida is named after Dr. Philip Phillips, a citrus magnate who owned thousands of acres of land in Central Florida, including 28 orange groves, 3 packing houses, a cannery and who successfully ran one of the most successful citrus enterprises in the world over his lifetime. The creation for the Dr. Phillips community was the inspiration of Howard Phillips, the son of Dr. Phillips, who hired a San Francisco land planning firm in the 1950s to create the master-planned community now known as Dr. Phillips, Florida. The Dr. Phillips area is defined as the area that originally encompassed the contiguous Phillips family land holdings in Southwest Orlando.
The Dr. Phillips community contains high-quality residential neighborhoods, retail shopping, healthcare services, schools and a world-class YMCA, many of which are named after its founder. Today, the Dr. Phillips community is located at the center of the tourism industry where residents and visitors enjoy access to world class dining and hospitality, theme parks, Bay Hill (home of famed Arnold Palmer Golf Course) and outdoor recreation like boating on the Butler Chain of Lakes.
At the heart of the Dr. Phillips community sits the headquarters of Dr. Phillips Charities, a grant making organization. After selling the bulk of his land to Minute Maid in 1954, Dr. Phillips created The Dr. P. Phillips Foundation which became part of Dr. Phillips Charities and represents the Phillips’ family legacy. The vision of the Phillips family was to support worthy capital projects and innovative programs of not-for-profit organizations that address critical Central Florida needs, demonstrate the potential for ongoing community support and have significant, lasting impact on the community.
At the heart of our booming tourism industry, Lake Buena Vista is a municipality controlled by the Walt Disney Company. Beyond Disney’s gates, visitors can find everything from dining to shopping to nightlife and more. Restaurants with delectable cuisine from around the world and dinner theaters to delight young and old with shows, music, comedy, dancing and even medieval jousting are found in every corner. Several golf clubs are also located in this vacation hotspot making it an ideal destination for all families. It was located fully inside the Reedy Creek Improvement District. The city was controlled by Walt Disney Productions and allowed it powers that other area attractions had not had. The city was completely moved, taking over some land that had been part of the City of Bay Lake and including some other land that had formerly been unincorporated.
The City of Ocoee is a shining example of the notion that growth and history can be successfully blended. Once a sleepy city founded after the Civil War by confederate soldiers and their families, Ocoee has grown into the third-largest city in Orange County. In the mid-1850s, the settlement began when Dr. J. D. Starke led a group of slaves into the area .Dr. J.D. Starke established a village known as Starke Lake situated on the body of water of the same name. Ocoee has come a long way since 1881, when Captain Sims acquired a 74-acre parcel of land in what is now considered downtown Ocoee. Since then, Ocoee has been inviting people to share in its beauty and good fortune and now is home to more than 34,000 people.
Orlando is the vibrant and constantly evolving county seat of Orange County. Located in the heart of Central Florida, Orlando welcomes millions of visitors each year to its numerous tourist attractions including Walt Disney World and Universal Studios. Orlando is home to the University of Central Florida,
Horizon West stands on what was formerly citrus groves. After the devastating freezes of the 1980’s destroyed the area’s citrus trees, it was clear that alternative uses for the land would need to be found. Local leaders and planners rose to the challenge in 1994 and created an ambitious plan to develop a community using the principles of Garden Cities and New Urbanism. Horizon West was conceived as a community which would center self-sustaining, mixed use villages around elementary schools as the focus of each community. Today, Horizon West stands as a triumph of urban planning. Residents enjoy unmatched access to local amenities practically at their doorstep and commercial office spaces and a town center are within close proximity to high density residential areas.
Horizon West has won numerous state and regional awards for planning, including recognition from the State of Florida as a Sector Plan; the first Sector Plan to be approved in the State. Horizon West provides a meaningful alternative to the leapfrog development pattern of sprawl by creating self-sustaining villages that provide housing close to regional workplaces and community services.
Gotha stands as a peaceful rural historical community known for its lakes, outstanding schools, and for being a natural oasis just ten minutes from Downtown Orlando. Naming Gotha after his own hometown, German Immigrant H.A. Hempel founded Gotha in 1885 after settling there in search of opportunities to farm citrus and enjoy the area’s excellent weather. Gotha’s historic buildings stand as a reminder of the area’s long history and roots as a rural settlement. Even as Central Florida has grown and adapted to the times, Gotha has retained its historic charm and natural landscapes. Along main street Hempel, Palm Cottage Gardens is a popular attraction listed on the National Register of Historical Places and was home to Dr. Henry Nerhling, one of Gotha’s most prominent early residents who introduced many new plant species to the United States. Gotha’s Community Center is housed in the building that was once the town’s one room schoolhouse. Gotha’s leisurely pace of life is perfect for those who enjoy the outdoors, and its community park is a great place for outdoor activities.
Only a portion of the MetroWest community lies in District 1, with the other portion in District 6. The 1,805-acre mixed-use community features a prominent main entrance situated on MetroWest Boulevard off of Kirkman Road and is a diverse, cultural neighborhood of families, professionals, students and businesses. The neighborhood was developed in the 1980s by Debra, Inc., an Orlando-based developer, as a business, commercial and residential community. It has more than 9,600 residential homes and includes a range of housing options featuring single-family homes, apartments, townhomes and condominium complexes. MetroWest is managed by the MetroWest Master Association (MWMA), a corporation formed by Debra, Inc., which has the overall responsibility and right in maintaining the standards of all common areas located within the community.
Oakland is surrounded by enormous moss-draped oak trees and is located on the southern shores of Lake Apopka. Incorporated in 1887, Oakland now has about 2,200 residents within its quiet, serene country atmosphere. During a time of great growth in the region during the 1880s, Oakland emerged as the center of commerce in west Orange County, and in 1887 the town was incorporated. Unfortunately, a fire in the business district and a subsequent period of freezes in rapid succession throughout the 1890s, along with the growth of nearby Winter Garden seemed to ensure that Oakland would remain as little more than a sleepy village. Growth was slow to come.
Intertwined with the Butler chain of lakes, the Windermere community is a beautiful community with plenty of natural scenery. Windermere is a great place to see some of Florida’s traditional native plant species including the saw palmetto, and cypress and oak trees. Today, Windermere is a favorite of its residents not only for its scenic natural setting, but for the convenient proximity to Central Florida’s theme park attractions without the hustle and bustle of downtown life.
Tildenville is considered one of the oldest and smallest cities in Orange County. This community is famous for its rich family histories and events that build over the time a very important heritage. Luther F. Tilden came to Orange County from the north in 1875. He purchased 561 acres in an area in unincorporated Orange County later named Tildenville and became a leading citrus grower. Tildenville started being developed from that time.
Williamsburg, during the 70s, was a place surrounded by natural landscapes and wildlife. Later on, The Williamsburg Homeowners Association was instituted and, in all, seven villages including pools, tennis courts and clubhouses were built consisting of more than 3,000 homes. The Williamsburg community was named after William Jaird Levitt, whose family built four Levittowns, each a planned community, between 1947 and 1951. All four Levittowns are widely regarded as the archetypes for 20th century suburban development.
Winter Garden is known as a modern-day Mayberry by its residents. It is a community that transmits energy to everyone who goes there. It is a charming and comfortable place for the residents and for its visitors. It is a place for growing families and businesses, a place to relax and embrace new ideas and opportunities. Settlers began arriving in the Winter Garden area by the 1850s, attracted by the fertile muck land that bordered Lake Apopka. Citrus and vegetable farming were very popular during that time. By the end of the 19th century, Winter Garden’s business district had significantly developed. Winter Garden was established in 1903 and officially incorporated as a City in 1908.