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County to address development along eastern lakes Monday

Posted on Sunday, March 19, 2017 at 6:00 am

By Ken Jackson
Staff Writer
Osceola County commissioners will take up the fate of development along the shores of a handful of the county’s eastern lakes, notably Alligator Lake east of St. Cloud, on Monday at a special time.
The meeting, normally held at 5:30 p.m. on the third week of the month, will be held at 10 a.m. to accommodate the schedule of at least one commissioner who could not make a night meeting.
The board will hear and vote on ordinances related to the permitting of boat lifts, ramps, docks and dredging operations on said lakes. It all started after the Army Corps of Engineers issued a permit for the developers of a new subdivision on the west side of Alligator Lake, Hanover Lakes, to dredge 1.24 acres of the lake in order to build a boat lift, after acquiring a piece of land on the lake just big enough to build an inlet and marina to give those new residents boat access to Alligator Lake.
That permit was issued Jan. 26, despite the county issuing a temporary moratorium on applications for such operations on July 11, 2016, and sending a letter to the Army Corps in opposition to the permit on Aug. 3.
While admitting the developers acted in good faith according to current county codes, Commissioner Fred Hawkins, whose district 5 includes the Alligator Chain, said he would continue to oppose anything that involves dredging any lakes.
“Doing away with a boat lift or dock doesn’t solve the problem if you allow dredging, it creates more problems,” he said. “There were 250 letters sent to the Army Corps asking for a public hearing, which was denied.”
In response to all this action that’s occurred since last summer, residents who live near or on the lakes, including Brick and Buck Lake and Lake Gentry, formed ALCHA (Alligator Lake Chain Alliance), a non-profit organization of those concerned about maintaining the environment of the Alligator Lake Chain pristine for all county residents while maintaining public access. Members of that group are expected to attend and speak at Monday’s meeting.
“There are hundreds of residents and other county folks who are up in arms over this and other potential developments that would adversely affect the lakes,” ALCHA President Tim St. Gordon said this week by email.
Debra Johnson, ALCHA vice president, also said by email the Hanover Lakes development is taking advantage of a loophole in the code and exploiting the mistake made by the county in the oversight of development.
“The next developer in line already has plans for another 500 home sites, so the precedent will be set,” she said. “The commission has the opportunity to do the right thing and stop this. Several of them are running scared from a threatened lawsuit and the cost involved from the developer.  They all admit that Hanover Lakes approval was a mistake. They have gone on record and requested in writing that the (Army Corps) not approve the dredging permit.