Tuesday night, residents with Concerned Citizens of Tarpon Springs, told Tarpon Springs commissioners to prepare for a fight. This week the group filed a lawsuit against the city, the second in the last year. The group is asking a judge to overturn approval for an apartment complex on the Anclote River, which they say is “fatally flawed.”
Chris Hrabovsky is part of the group has been fighting for the land since 2004. That’s when Walmart purchased the 74-acres and attempted to build on the same plot. Years of legal battles later, Walmart moved on to a different locale. Hrabovsky says he’s concerned about the project.
“They want to build in a coastal high hazard area,” Hrabovsky said. “And the county specifically said that they’re not allowed to do that. And they did it anyway. So they’re putting people in harm’s way.”
Fatally flawed project
Texas developer, the Morgan Group, wants to build five four-story apartment buildings on the mostly submerged undeveloped area east of US Highway 19. With 404 total planned units in a flood zone, opponents are concerned about the possible impacts of flooding, the environment, and increased traffic. Last month, Tarpon Springs commissioners voted 3-1 in favor of rezoning the land from “general business” to “residential planned development.” Hrabovsky says it’s still unclear whether the Morgan group has purchased the land from Walmart. Either way, he says locals are ready for a battle.
“Everyone considered it un-buildable land and it is,” Hrabovsky said. “And now the Morgan group came in with basically the same team of experts. They flimflammed them, they lied, and they fudged numbers. We live here and we’re gonna fight every inch of the way.”
Group wants to see land turned into a park
The 74-acres includes 22-acres of wetland. Hrabovsky says the group wants to see the land turned into a park.
“After the Morgan group decides not to build, which they eventually will,” Hrabovsky said. “We’ll go after Walmart and ask to purchase the property from them or ask them to donate it. If the Morgan Group has bought it, once they realize they can’t afford to build, then we’ll ask them the same thing. The place is meant to be a park.”
There’s more information at savetarponsprings.org.