Swamp Hammock shows new site plan
Gary Pinnell | Highlands TodayLAKE PLACID - Swamp Hammock promoters will be asking Highlands County to allow 46 activities on the 1,135-acre parcel one mile south of West Josephine Road, near the Desoto-Hardee County lines.
Published: August 18, 2012
Published: August 18, 2012
Displayed on that list during an open house Thursday were log cabins, all-terrain vehicle and dirt bike tracks and trails, an obstacle course, mobile food, beverage and alcohol vendors, a general store, fishing areas, a heli-pad, car and tractor shows, horseback riding, areas for radio-controlled models, truck and tractor pulls, truck tug of wars, restrooms with showers, vehicle display and sales areas, a golf driving range, swimming areas with beaches, an area for weddings and retreats, ball fields, paint ball, war reenactments, fireworks and laser light displays, and cattle pens and grazing areas.
Jeff Kennedy, who has been pushing the project to Highlands County commissioners, showed a 10-foot wide map of the total property area, which also included cattle grazing lands. Gabe White took attendees on a trolley tour of the property.
"That's a buffer zone," Kennedy said. "We've pushed everything else into the center."
Those activities also include a drive-in movie theater that could double as a concert stage and a 1,000-yard rifle range.
And four mud-bogging areas. Mud bogging is an off-road hobby-sport with supercharged engine classes, safety rules and owner-driver relationships. Some drive monster trucks; others put the petal to the metal in ATVs.
However, Swamp Hammock is cattle country, and that's what concerned neighbors.
"People running around at all hours of the night, up and down the roads," said Rick Murray, who lives at West Josephine Road and Bethea Lane.
Dale Willard, a real estate agent, had a similar complaint. The county should extend Marguerite Road two miles to the north, he said. That would link the county line road with SR 66, a modern two-lane thoroughfare that would take motorists past his residence to Hardee, DeSoto and Okeechobee counties. That way, motorists wouldn't need to be on the narrow, winding West Josephine Road, which has many homes.
As for the rifle range and other activities, Willard shrugged his shoulders. He's not for any of it. "It would screw up our peaceful way of life. But it is America. You should be able to do what you want on your own property."
Swamp Hammock has hired Pam Karlson, a Lake Placid attorney who doubles as Highlands County's special magistrate, to help with a presentation to the Planning and Zoning Commission at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 23.
Although Kennedy had hoped to hold the first event by Memorial Day 2012, waiting has allowed Swamp Hammock to revise its plans and, if the county commission agrees in September, to hold a wider variety of events.
Zoning Supervisor Linda Conrad said Swamp Hammock could have been governed by an events ordinance, but now it's requesting a zoning change from agricultural district to agricultural planned development district.
More info: Highlands County zoning office, 402-6638 or email@example.com.
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