Lake County residents express anger over development plans

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CLERMONT, Fla. —

Some Lake County residents are outraged at plans to bring a gas station, convenience store and farmers market to their neighborhood.

They made their voices heard to the developer at a meeting Thursday.

Police officers are used to writing speeding tickets and responding to crimes, but Thursday night they stood watch at a meeting where residents discussed a piece of property surrounded by a handmade wooden fence, home to a few grazing cows.

Residents said the area is serene right now but they are concerned that plans to build a farmers market and gas station would change that.

"This would ruin my neighborhood immensely. I would have to move," neighbor Patrick Solomon said.

"We moved in that area to be away from everything. If we wanted a convenience store, we would've moved downtown," neighbor Mary Jo Pfeiffer said.

Joseph Dougherty wants to put a market, store and four gas pumps on the property he owns along Lakeshore Drive in Clermont.

The land is in the middle of a neighborhood with a bustling street nearby.

Neighbors fear traffic would clog the streets.

"I'm worried about light pollution. I'm worried about noise pollution. I'm worried about the crime," Solomon said.

"We're not surprised. We don't expect everyone to be happy about this. Everyone is certainly entitled to their opinion," project spokeswoman Mandi Wettstein said.

The owner and his staff met with residents in small groups at a local hotel and told them the plans still need approval.

From start to finish, it could be five years before a store with gas pumps opens.

Dougherty wants to put it in because he said the area is underserviced.

Neighbors don't care.

"Please don't do this to a residential area. Take your plan somewhere else," Pfeiffer said.