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INCORPORATION 101: What It Means To Be A City

By James D. DeCocq


If you’ve lived in East Orange County for any length of time, you have no doubt heard a discussion or read an article about the creation of a new city in our neck of the woods.  Actually considering the land values, construction rates, infrastructure issues, and service levels we have on this side of town, this should really be “THE” conversation.   But, before we can factually debate the pros and cons of being our own autonomous government, we must first break through the initial human resistances to the very idea.


Over the next few months, we will be presenting the basic ideas, advantages, and disadvantages, of governing ourselves as a City or being governed by the County.

So let’s begin with a couple of definitions and allay a few fears.




A “County” is defined by as the largest administrative division of a U.S. state.  Moreover, their definition considers the territory of a county to especially refer to its rural areas.



According to, “Unincorporated” means a rural area that is not part of a town or city that is usually policed by the county because there is not sufficient population to support a town or city. Sometimes small pockets of land between large cities are unincorporated until they are annexed by a surrounding city.
 establishes a “City” as an urban area where a large number of people live and work; an incorporated urban center that has self-government, boundaries, and legal rights established by state charter.




Just by definition alone, it would seem that a good portion of East Orange County should be an “Incorporated City”; a non-rural, large permanent population of residents and workers, in an urban setting, who can support themselves, and deserve their own boundaried identity, legal rights, and self-governance.




So why are we not a City?  In short, we simply haven’t asked…hard enough.




I always like to say that “Incorporation is an act of sheer will”.  It is a war of attrition, with the victor sporting the greater intestinal fortitude.




There is a petition process that must be followed through Florida State Statute 165; however, it is fairly easy and straightforward.  The difficulty is almost always in having the petitioners keep themselves motivated.




So what might discourage peoples’ interest in being their own city in the first place?  



Well, we will be taking questions and discuss this in our next installment.



James DeCocq owns and operates NJC Corporate Enterprises, a government efficiency firm that can works HOA's, CDD's, municipalities and counties and offers administrative services, staffing, financial efficiency analysis, operations & management. Together with his degree in Marine Biology & Affairs, James offers a unique edge to the vitalization of communities.