Park can't expand just yet

That's a county official's assessment of plans for growth at the Nature's Resort RV park.

Published July 1, 2006

HOMOSASSA - Plans to expand an RV park on the Halls River are premature, according to a county staff analysis.

A developer has proposed adding 191 RV lots and 106 tent sites to the Nature's Resort RV park on 61.4 acres north of Halls River Road and west of the Halls River.

The owner of Nature's Resort could not be reached for comment Friday. But an application submitted to county planners in April notes that the project is already approved for 285 RV sites.

Developer Ackley Investments II Inc. of Spring Hill wants to make room for more RVs.

The changes, which would bring the total number of RV sites to 495, would require an amendment to the county's land development code. And the proposed expansion is just five units short of the state's threshold for developments of regional impact - which would subject it to a broader review.

The proposal is slated to go before the county's Planning and Development Review Board in a hearing 9 a.m. Thursday in Room 166 of the Lecanto Government Building, 3600 W. Sovereign Path.

County environmental planner Sue Farnsworth said Friday that she was not able to determine how much the proposed expansion would affect wetlands.

"I think they need ... to get a better handle on the wetland impacts before trying to present this to the county," she said.

In her staff report, Farnsworth said wetlands were "interlaced" throughout the property.

"The wetlands on this site are not real obvious and well defined," she said Friday. "You don't have a nice easy river bank you can look at."

She said the developer should work with the Southwest Florida Water Management District to obtain an Environmental Resource Permit before seeking county approval.

In her report, Farnsworth also noted concerns about model units currently on the property without county permits and the location of drainage retention areas.

"It's hard to review or approve a master plan when those details have not been worked out," she said.

Farnsworth said she has received little public comment about the project. But it is starting to rile local environmentalists, who worry that its large scale could have a dramatic impact on local waterways.

Ron Miller, a director of the Save the Homosassa River Alliance and past president of the group, sent out an e-mail expressing his concerns to several of the organization's leaders Friday.

"It's a really, really large expansion. ... it's just enormous," he said in an interview Friday. "It looks like a big-deal thing, and people ought to be aware of it."

Catherine E. Shoichet can be reached at cshoichet@sptimes.com or 860-7309.