A man-made lagoon in Wimauma can open to the public beyond the residents in the gated community of Southshore Bay, Hillsborough County commissioners said Thursday.
The Metro Development Group recently completed the lagoon as a neighborhood amenity, but needed county permission to allow the 5-acre body of water to be available to the general public.
Commissioners first heard the request in October but kicked it back for additional hearings after staff and some residents raised concerns about outside traffic on neighborhood roads. The developers agreed to station a guard at Southshore Bay’s gated entrance to limit outside access to the number of available parking spots.
The parking lot will hold 246 spots for guests and residents and 220 golf cart spaces for residents’ use only. Southshore Bay is approved for nearly 3,000 homes on 680 acres. So far, 630 homes are built or under construction.
The proposed change still didn’t satisfy the Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission staff. It said the site, south of State Road 674 (Sun City Center Boulevard) and east of U.S. 301, wasn’t a proper location for a commercial, amusement amenity.
Commissioners approved the request 7-0 after no residents spoke at a public hearing Thursday.
The lagoon is Metro Development’s Group’s second such amenity in the Tampa Bay region. The Epperson development in Wesley Chapel opened its lagoon, the first in the United States, in late 2018. Metro Development plans a third lagoon at its Mirada development in Pasco County.
The bodies of water carry the trademarked name of Metro Lagoons by Crystal Lagoons®, but are referred to commonly and in Hillsborough public documents simply as Crystal Lagoons. They feature a beach around a man-made lake of clear, purified water.
At Epperson, current cost for an adult day pass to nonresidents is $10, according to its website, but the price can be as high as $35 depending on seasonal demand. A beach chair in a prime location, cabana, mini tiki hut and use of paddleboards or the inflatable obstacle course cost extra.
The information submitted to Hillsborough County included a letter from Pasco County Commissioner Ron Oakley, who said the facility at Epperson hadn’t generated a single parking complaint to the county in the three years it has been open.