Dispute Over Springhills Continues With Lawsuit Delivered to County
While it may have come as a surprise to many who protested the Springhills expansion, PREIT however, has been combing through transcripts from public hearings, emails by the county and minutes from commission meetings from the past year looking for violations in the development process and now they say the found them.
This is what the developers of Springhills were proposing to build that is until they were denied the expansion they were seeking on May 3rd of this year.
After months of controversy and public uproar county commissioners said no to the 1.5 million acre commercial complex expansion, saying that they had to stick to the original plan --as known as the Development of Regional Impact, or DRI. Now PREIT is saying that the county has been meeting behind their back over the course of a year. the suit filed yesterday states: "That the county failed to provide reasonable notice of informal meetings the county commission held between January 17, 2006 and April 17, 2007."
At which the developer's lawyer, Bruce Goldman claims decisions were made. In a phone interview he said, "You can't crystallize decisions outside of the sunshine it was that that probably that triggered and tripped out interest in pursuing a legal remedy."
The county says otherwise, saying that no voting takes place at informal meetings. According to Mark Sexton, Alachua County Commission spokesperson, who could speak only on limited terms, said "The PREIT's contention that there were secret meetings that took place certainly the county contention that the meetings in question were properly notified and held in the sunshine."
But the developer says that isn't all. They say that traffic studies done by the planning council weren't in accordance to what PREIT expected. Goldman says that "What became 40 million dollars of roadways for which the project is significant and adverse became 120 million worth of roadways."
"The county commission did what they thought was right in the Springhills case, they had good reason to deny the comprehensive plan agreement," says Sexton.
PREIT is hoping that they county will revert to estimation from earlier studies that will require they pay no more than $18 million dollars, after reimbursements, for necessary road expansion.
By Stacey Samuel, WCJB TV20 News
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