Highland Homes met the Florida Department of Enviornmental Protection’s deadline for DEP’s demands for further testing of the old Palm View golf course in Palmetto at 5712 28th Ave. E.
Initial test results show certain areas of the course have an amount of arsenic that exceeds residential requirements, but that the situation can be remedied and development could proceed upon final DEP review.
“Arsenic is a typical contaminate from use of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers,” said Shannon Herbon, DEP media relations and legislative affairs.
The Lakeland-based developer purchased the 58-acre, 55-year-old golf course in January 2016 for $1.4 million pending a final site plan approval. Plans for the property include 142 single-family homes.
The site plan has stalled in the Manatee County planning process but remains active. Manatee County does not require extensive testing on properties that have a history of chemical use. DEP became involved when residents surrounding the course expressed concerns about how development would disturb property that was chemically treated for decades.
In June of 2016, a 2014 Manatee County report surfaced that showed the former owner ran a “sloppy operation,” pertaining to storage of chemicals. Officials never followed up on the report since the property transferred ownership and the course was closed.
The developer completed initial testing in March 2015 but DEP called it “incomplete” and ordered more testing. DEP doubled the testing requirements, focusing on former greens and tees, where the most chemicals would likely be used.
Of 20 sites tested, samples revealed 12 had excessive amounts of arsenic.
“Based on the results of all samples analyzed, it is clear that the concern is isolated to (arsenic) and is generally (surface) in nature,” the environmental report states. “It is our opinion that, with the use of imported and excavated soils, limited dirt relocation and some potential small-scale soil removal, the concerns related to (arsenic) can be fully remedied.”
The department will consider whether any additional site rehabilitation is required.
Shannon Herbon, DEP media relations and legislative affairs
Another primary concern was the mystery surrounding an underground storage tank that could not initially be located. Last summer, two above storage ground tanks and associated golf course buildings were demolished. The ground was graded and a final inspection found a pipe protruding from the ground.
The pipe led to the discovery of the underground storage tank, which was then removed. The report submitted to DEP states the tank was rusted out and there was,“no indication of recent use or any evidence of liquid.”
DEP ordered soil and groundwater sampling because a tank closure report was never submitted. Testing was done by installing a temporary well and samples “generated no concerns,” according to the report.
Herbon said DEP would dig deeper into the Phase II testing results.
“The department will consider whether any additional site rehabilitation is required,” Herbon said.