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Crystal River retreats on Pelican Cove

Despite their annoyance at Pelican Cove developer Jim Eyster, the Crystal River City Council this week gave him a short reprieve instead of taking him to court.

The council also balked at turning off water service to the development north of town to force residents to annex into the city.

For weeks, the council has been battling with Eyster over a variety of issues surrounding his agreement to annex Pelican Cove II into Crystal River.

Eyster has not turned over water lines or given the city easements to work on lines despite the city's demands that he do so immediately.

The 29 homeowners in the community, whom Eyster failed to tell about the annexation agreement signed in the 1980s, are also balking at joining the city.

During Monday night's council meeting, City Attorney Jeannette Haag encouraged the council to separate their action into two parts, one against Eyster and the other against the Pelican Cove residents.

Haag said Eyster wasn't sure he had the authority to do some of the things required in the agreement with the city or if a homeowners' group was supposed to do them.

"The developer ought to quickly respond or we ought to bring suit," Haag told the council.

Court action would probably be best if the council was going to force the residents in by cutting off their water, Haag said. She also noted that the council could just decide to let the current Pelican Cove residents off the hook by requiring them to annex in only when the property changes hands.

City Council members didn't seem interested in pushing the idea of cutting off water and didn't want to jump into a lawsuit either.

"These people haven't done anything to the city of Crystal River," said council member Levi Phillips. "This is an issue of one man and the city of Crystal River, one developer and the city of Crystal River."

Phillips also put Haag on the defensive by questioning why she had not advised the council to have the Eyster agreement recorded in county records back when it was signed as a sure way of letting residents know about the annexation bargain.

Haag said she had advised former City Manager Merv Waldrop to do so.

But Phillips disputed that; he said he had talked to Waldrop, and Waldrop didn't remember ever being told to record the document.

Haag termed it "selective amnesia" on Waldrop's part and vowed to find proof that she had notified Waldrop of her concerns.