Court filing accuses owner of Lake County pit of breaking hauling agreement to dig, sell dirt

Video: Court filing accuses owner of Lake County pit of breaking hauling agreement to dig, sell dirt

LAKE COUNTY, Fla. — 9 Investigates uncovered a court filing accusing the owner of a pit in Lake County of breaking the rules of a hauling agreement it had to sell dirt without a full-fledged mining permit.

Channel 9 investigative reporter Karla Ray has been pushing for answers on behalf of neighbors of pits like the one at the Lake County Fish Farm for months. She learned that this pit’s owner, the only one so far that worked out a deal with county leaders to dig up and sell the dirt, stands accused of hauling away too much of the material.

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Attorneys for Lake County filed a motion in court trying to stop work at the Lake County Fish Farm, accusing the pit owner of failing to comply with a settlement agreement that allowed 250,000 cubic yards of dirt to be removed. That filing was put into the court system in early January, but a hearing won’t be held on the issue until Feb. 12, so the work has continued.

“Today has been very quiet, but past days have been very busy,” neighbor Sue Ray said.

The court filing notes the Fish Farm’s actions “may cause adverse impacts on the natural environment and public health, safety, and general welfare of Lake County and its residents.”

Lake County leaders are in litigation with at least two other pits as well, known as Whitewater Farms and Walkabout Ranch. Both of those properties were accused of illegally mining and selling the dirt to FDOT subcontractors for the Wekiva Parkway project, until 9 Investigates caught the attention of state leaders who pushed for it to stop.

Whitewater Farms’s case with the county is up for a hearing next week.

“We know it’s going there,” Sue Ray said.

Since the Fish Farm filing has to go through the court system, neighbors say there is no immediate accountability, making it tough to slow down the work.

“They’re going to hopscotch through 2021,” Sue Ray said.

We reached out to the attorneys representing the Fish Farm to see if they had a response to the county’s court filing but haven’t heard back. Nothing has been filed on their behalf in the court system in response to the motion.