Some residents hesitant about Lake Jesup nature center plans

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SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. - Controversy is brewing along Lake Jesup where a well-known developer is planning another tourist attraction.

The Lake Jesup Nature Center would go next to Joel Martin's other business, Black Hammock Adventures.

Martin told Channel 9 he also wants to build a miniature golf course.

Some people who live nearby are not on board, but Martin said if he develops the land it will be far more protected than if families build homes on the same site.

Seminole County resident Rachel Rose said she left Orlando to dodge the attractions, but now an attraction is moving next to her home.

"I just wasn't too thrilled about that only because it (is) just too much activity lots of, you know, tourists," Rose said.

Martin, of Black Hammock Adventures, bought the neighboring tree farm to turn it into the nature center complete with a bird sanctuary.

He said the goal is to protect the environment and educate, but his plans to build several two-bedroom cabins, a gift shop and a mini-golf course have some neighbors scratching their heads.

Martin said each miniature golf hole will have educational information.

Martin wants to put in a dock for a pontoon boat, but he said it's just going to be for one pontoon boat and nothing like his marina next door at Black Hammock Adventures.

Resident Blaine Reed thinks the nature center is a fantastic idea that fits Seminole County's motto: Florida's Natural Choice.

He also lives next door so he knows what the developer has already done with Black Hammock.

"If he makes it the way he says it's going to be, I don't have a problem with it at all, he has always improved anything around here ever since," Reed said.

Rose said she just hopes the nature center lives up to its name so the neighborhood keeps its back-country vibe.

"I just kind of like the simple lifestyle, it's different, it's a different feel out here," Rose said.

There is going to be a public hearing for a special exemption next month to put in the boat dock.