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Site dispute rages as bulldozers roll

Published Oct. 10, 2005

For more than 10 years, the Concerned Citizens of Citrus County have fought a proposed development to be known as Crystal Cove.

That fight erupted anew Monday as Helen Spivey, president of the environmental group, sought a way to halt bulldozers and cranes that have begun dredging and filling several acres within the 800-acre parcel.

Spivey is hoping Citrus County will order the work to stop until the question of who has authority to allow the work has been settled.

The property is in a sort of legal limbo. The city of Crystal River annexed it twomonths ago, but the land has not yet been included in the city's comprehensive plan, a state-mandated blueprint for growth.

It may be months before the property can be added.

Until that happens, many people think, the land still falls under Citrus County's comprehensive plan, which has tougher restrictions on development.

Several days ago, Crystal River issued a permit allowing Burnup and Sims, owner of the development, to begin site work on the property.

City Manager Merv Waldrop, while acknowledging that the matter is open to interpretation, said he thinks the work requested by Burnup and Sims complies with the county's comprehensive plan since land clearing and dredging "does not affect land use or density," key points in the comprehensive plan.

Vince Cautero, the county's development director, thinks his office should make that determination. Monday, he asked County Attorney Larry Haag to decide where the city's responsibilities begin and the county's responsibilities end.

Haag is expected to decide today.

In the meantime, Spivey contacted Richard Grosso, attorney for the 1000 Friends of Florida environmental group, seeking a legal way to stop the bulldozers.

Spivey said she does not think the work will comply with the county's comprehensive plan. "If filling a six-acre swamp doesn't affect land use, then I don't know what does," Spivey said.

She said she planned to alert City Council members to the problem and was hoping that Haag could issue a stop order on the work today. If not, she said, she would press with an injunction to stop the dredging process.

"I just can't believe the bulldozers are there," she said.