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Friday, December 8, 2023

Leesburg commissioners extend due diligence period and alter size of land being sold to The Villages

Leesburg City commissioners voted to extend a due diligence period on a 1,127-acre parcel of land the city is selling to The Villages’ developer.

The due diligence period on the land, located north of County Road 470, was supposed to end Aug. 8. But according to a memo sent to commissioners from City Manager Al Minner, there are four issues that aren’t quite resolved:

  • A consumptive use permit for The Villages and Leesburg;
  • Completing the mineral rights escrow;
  • Completing a general government services agreement (roads, parks, recreation, building fees, fire services, etc.); and
  • A sanitary sewer franchise agreement.

At Minner’s request, the commission agreed to extend the due diligence period until Sept. 21. Minner said both parties are in agreement that the remaining four items can be handled by then, with the closing date on the property still set for Oct. 8.

The Villages of West Lake will mark Leesburg land becoming part of The Villages.

Monday’s action also officially modified the size of the property being purchased by eliminating 531 acres south of County Road 470. Minner said that area needs to be retained as a spray field until The Villages is ready to accept 6 million gallons per day of reuse water on a yearly basis.

Currently, he said, The Villages can accept that much reuse water and use in its operations for about nine months out of the year, excluding peak season. So, the acreage on the south side of CR 470 will be used to spray effluent during that time period, Minner added.

“That giveback of those acreages is critical to make the deal work, to enable us to sell the north side (land),” Minner said, adding that about 3,000 homes can be built on the 1,127 acres as opposed to the original calculations of “upwards of 4,000” on the original proposed land purchase. The current deal is for $7,000 an acre, which amounts to more than $7.8 million. But, Minner said, roughly $3.3 million of that amount has to go back to the federal Environmental Protection Agency for acres that were given to the city in the early 1980s to be used as a spray field for the dispersal of wastewater.

With the spray field issue in mind, Minner wrote, The Villages developer has asked that after closing on the property, a restrictive covenant be placed on the land to protect the developer’s interest “as a result of them accepting reuse water for over 9 months of the year.” The covenant would have a cap of 20 years, Minner wrote.

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