Developers halt construction on Cypress Creek mall
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04/02/08 Mitch E. Perry
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Construction has been halted on the troubled Cypress Creek Town Center in Wesley Chapel.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had suspended the wetlands infill permit on Feb. 1 after storm water runoff polluted Cypress Creek, which is a tributary for the Hillsborough River, where the city of Tampa gets its drinking water. It was the second time the Army Corps had inspected such runoff. But despite that, construction had continued, until now.

Michelle Seifert is associated vice president of retail at Grubb & Ellis/Commercial Florida in Tampa.

Controversy has surrounded the proposed shopping mall since it was first announced earlier this decade. The Sierra Club sued in federal court in Washington last year contesting the wetlands permit, saying it threatens both the waterway and the wildlife because it allows the Jacob Group to develop without having adequate buffers in place to ensure that runoff from the site will not end up in the creek.

Local environmental activist Denise Layne is the point person for the Club. She says that the suspension meant there could be no development touching any wetland system or being near the creek.

On Feb. 13, the Army filed a motion in federal court seeking to halt proceedings in a lawsuit challenging the project so that it can review the permit that is at the heart of the litigation.

Eric Summa from the Army Corps says that review is being held up, because the developers, the Richard Jacobs group, haven’t fully provided all of the data needed.

Layne wants to let the public know that the Sierra Club's intention has never been to kill the Town Center, which is to feature an open air mall measuring more than a 1,000 square feet, along with offices, residential units and other commercial properties.

There is no word yet on when the federal judge in Washington will rule on the wetlands permit.

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