Environmental concerns at the old Palm View Golf Course in Palmetto continue to delay a proposed 142-unit housing development being planned by Lakeland-based Highland Homes.
The developer now has until Dec. 5 to respond to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s requests for additional information.
Residents in the nearby Deer Run community lost a drawn out zoning battle to keep the site from being developed in 2014, but this summer they raised health concerns after learning of a county report citing the former owner as running a “sloppy operation.”
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Those concerns drew the attention of FDEP, which launched its own investigation in July and required the developer to conduct appropriate soil testing on the land where various chemicals were used during the 50-year lifespan of the golf course. FDEP gave Highland Homes until August to complete what spokeswoman Shannon Herbon called “an extensive assessment.”
We will require the site to be evaluated for potential hazardous materials prior to any approvals being granted.
John Barnott, Manatee County building and development services director
Highland Homes vice president George Lindsey has pledged full cooperation. The initial testing done by a company hired by Highland Homes did reveal some minor issues, but FDEP said the testing was incomplete and lacked essential information.
Herbon said FDEP is now asking the developer to concentrate testing on the sites of the former tees and greens for sampling and analysis.
“Based on experience, this is where most of the impacts are found on golf courses,” Hebron said. “We also asked them to overlay their development plans on the former golf course so we can see the locations of the residential lots and where they fall relative to former use.”
Once the this next round of testing is complete, Hebron said the FDEP will review it and “discuss whatever remedial actions will be necessary for them to redevelop to the proposed land use.”
The county does not require soil testing on development sites and according to John Barnott, building and development services director, the first review of the Palm View subdivision was completed in June.
“We sent them our comments and have not heard a word from the applicant since,” Barnott said.
Barnott said while FDEP and the county aren’t in constant communication, FDEP’s evaluation and conclusions will be relevant.
“We will require the site to be evaluated for potential hazardous materials prior to any approvals being granted,” he said.