It’s been close to a year since the Florida Department of Environmental Protection put the brakes on building 142 homes on the old Palm View golf course in Palmetto. The project is now called Jackson’s Crossing, but DEP officials are still waiting for the developer to get them up to speed on potential hazardous materials on the site.
After months of getting incomplete data from the developer’s environmental team, DEP has set a new March 28 deadline to have additional information submitted.
Lakeland-based Highland Homes purchased the 58 acres in January 2016 for $1.4 million pending final site plan approval, just weeks after the owner announced the 50-year-old course would be closing for good. Residents surrounding the course became concerned that development would disturb soil that had been treated with chemicals for a half-century.
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In June 2016, a 2014 Manatee County report surfaced that the former owner ran a “sloppy operation,” regarding storage of chemicals. Manatee County does not require a developer to do extensive soil testing as part of the county’s site plan process, but when residents went public with their concern, DEP got involved to ensure the developer did its due diligence with soil testing.
The site plan is still under active review by the county, but the developer has not filed any further information with the county since November, according to Tracy Trahan, Manatee County Building and Development Services planner. Trahan said the developer still has questions to answer about the project.
And the DEP has more questions.
By August 2016, DEP was still trying to get testing information from the developer and set an Aug. 24 deadline to have that information submitted. The testing results were eventually filed with the agency and showed no concerns, but DEP said the report was incomplete.
One of several concerns is an underground storage tank that Horner Environmental Professionals could not locate, indicating it had been removed some time ago. Last year, DEP Southwest District Director Mary Yeargan said in a letter to all parties that if the storage tank was closed, a closure assessment report should have been filed.
Yeargan also said the seven soil samples taken at the site by Horner did not provide data as far as depth, the form detailing chain of custody and the laboratory report. In December, Horner submitted an updated report of their sampling, noting that two depth samples were taken at six locations. But since there were no concerns in the shallow samples, “further analysis was not conducted on the deeper sample.”
DEP has since ordered 10 additional samples to test for arsenic and pesticides, and for a temporary monitoring well to be installed on the site in search of petroleum-related toxins feared to be associated with the underground storage tank. Shannon Herbon, DEP media relations and legislative affairs, said the March 28 deadline is to receive the results of that additional testing.
Thus far, most tests have shown no indication for concern except for high levels of arsenic where the underground tank was believed to have been. Herbon said the tests showed “slightly exceeded residential cleanup soil level requirements. We’re waiting on additional results from the soil and groundwater we asked them to conduct. Once we have all that information, we can take a look at the big picture and determine what will need to be remedied.”