Monroe County Councilman Scott Wells called on the county to crack down on developers who threaten Lake Monroe by clearing trees along shoreline developments.
On Friday, Wells showed the County Commissioners photographs of several houses under construction in the lakeside Porta Bello, Harbor Hills and Pedigo Bay developments, where he says developers have engaged in “illegal land-disturbing activities.” The luxury homes are being built on the lake’s western shore near the dam.
“Every summer I go out and there’s more and more cuts,” Wells told the commissioners. “They’ve opened these up more and more.”
Wells said he was particularly concerned about clearing on steep slopes and said the county needs to impose stiff fines and require revegetation when developers denude them.
Wells reminded the commissioners that tourism is the county’s No. 2 revenue-generating industry and said the lake’s undisturbed character is an important piece of that economic activity.
“The neatest thing about the lake is how pristine it looks,” he said.
He called on the commissioners to be aggressive in their efforts to keep the lake as unspoiled as possible and to protect the community’s sole source of drinking water.
“I hope the commissioners will help lead the charge on this so we can protect our shoreline,” he said.
Commissioners President Brian O’Neill agreed that revegetating illegally cut shoreline property is important and said there is movement on a county ordinance that would require it. He also noted that it is difficult to get vegetation to grow on steep slopes and that county inspectors would have to reinspect often to ensure remediation was effective.
“It has to be tough and persistent or we’re not going to get anywhere,” he said.