Veterinarian sues to halt mall next door

He owns a 100-acre farm on State Road 54. He says the project will destroy wetlands.

By CHUIN-WEI YAP, Times Staff Writer
Published August 30, 2007

ODESSA - A veterinarian sued a Sweetbay-anchored development Wednesday, saying the mall would damage his property next door.

Octavio Blanco has a 100-acre farm on State Road 54, just east of the Suncoast Parkway, where his family has lived for 50 years.

Next door, the Paradise Development Group wants to build the 37-acre Shoppes of Suncoast, which could be home to three restaurants, two banks, a gas station and two other retail stores. A 50,000-square-foot Sweetbay has confirmed its interest in anchoring the site.

Paradise brochures say they hope to open the mall in 2008.

Not if Blanco can help it.

He filed suit at the state Division of Administrative Hearings, challenging a permit awarded to Paradise by the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

"The district has authorized the applicant to permanently destroy 3.1 acres of forested wetlands and given permission for 'temporary impacts' to another 1.4 acres of wetlands," the lawsuit said.

Blanco is asking Swiftmud to deny the permit.

Chuin-Wei Yap can be reached at 813 909-4613 or cyap@sptimes.com.