Lake County land owners eye Clermont annexation as Wellness Way remains stuck

Teresa Burney
Contact ReporterGrowthSpotter contributor

Lake County land owners seeking to develop Wellness Way are getting restless waiting for the county’s plan to create a development corridor emphasizing health and wellness, even as Cemex is fighting to build a sand mine in the middle that some stakeholders say would be anathema to development’s goal to promote health.

Jim Karr, one of a consortium of land owners working for Wellness Way’s approval, said he and other investors are getting tired of waiting and spending money on lawyers to get the plan approved and to fight Cemex, a multinational building materials company.

A broker, developer and buyer at Land Plus, Inc., Karr said he is considering annexing some 1,000 acres under his control into the city of Clermont to effectively get the development going, rather than wait further for county approvals for Wellness Way. 

“Ultimately all that land would need to annex into the city of Clermont anyway,” Karr told GrowthSpotter, because Clermont has the ability to provide sewer and other infrastructure.

Also, Clermont has agreed that the land could be developed under the Wellness Way guidelines, he added.

Fighting for the Wellness Way approval and opposing the Cemex plant has cost land owners a lot over the years.

“No matter what we did they wouldn’t go away,” said Karr. “We are burning through it, we are spending a bunch of money in lawyers’ fees.

“We can’t be held hostage by them,” he continued. “The market demand is out there, there are contracts [for the land] flying by the land holders out there. The area is mature and prime for development.” 

Robert Chandler, Lake County economic development and tourism director, agreed that, ultimately, that land will be annexed into the city of Clermont anyway because it has the utility capacity to handle the development. He said he is hopeful that some sort of compromise will be negotiated with the state and with Cemex to settle the matter.

“Six months ago, I would not have that same opinion,” Chandler said. “I feel pretty confident that we will move in a positive direction. From what I understand it is more positive in nature than negative. I’m hopeful.

“This is one of the fastest growing areas in the country and you think they are going to stop just because of the plan?”

Have a tip about Central Florida development? Contact me at teresaburney4@gmail.com or 352-455-1955. Follow GrowthSpotter on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.

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