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Burnt Store homeowners say a new development could threaten existing communities

The Burnt Store Corridor Coalition raised concerns following the preliminary plat approval for the Firelight development.
Posted at 8:12 AM, Feb 01, 2024

PUNTA GORDA, Fla. — After a preliminary plat for a new Burnt Store area development was approved by the county at a Jan. 23 commission meeting, homeowners in the Burnt Store area feel their infrastructure needs should be addressed before new developments are constructed.

The Burnt Store Corridor Coalition represents over 11,000 people in the Burnt Store area. BSCC members have argued that without an updated hydrology study, adding a new development to the area could break the neighborhood's aging drainage system.

"It floods every time a light rain comes through, and our governing body seems to be ignoring us," said Mason Weaver, a BSCC member.

BSCC also said that according to a public/private partnership document called the 2005 Burnt Store Area Plan, the county has an obligation to maintain the drainage systems, and hasn't delivered.

"We can't blame the commissioners because the commissioners were different at that time," said Bob DiMuzio, who lives in the Pirate Harbor neighborhood. "But the county staff is the question whether they've held up their end and the answer is no."

On Sept. 19, the county commission held a workshop to discuss the future of the Burnt Store area. BSCC members said were led to believe there would be a follow up to that meeting to update the 2005 Burnt Store Area Plan before new developments were green-lit.

In October, the Firelight development was approved and includes 219 single-family homes on over 330 acres of land on Zemel Road.

"That has been a sore spot for the residents, because they feel betrayed," said John Fleming, a BSCC leader. "We came to them in September and told them we have good news, the county commissioners have approved a revisit of that 2005 plan. Now we see there is no revisit, there is more development coming, and I got to tell you, the homeowners, speaking to them they are furious."

Commissioner for the area, Chris Constance, did not respond to a request for comment about the concerns. Constance did say during the Jan. 23 meeting that he would speak at the BSCC meeting on Feb. 8.