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CLERMONT, FL-After nine years of planning and $1 million in pre-development costs, the Orlando developers of the planned 1,433-acre Sugarloaf Mountain mixed-used venture are back where they started, at ground zero.

In a unanimous 5-0 vote, Lake County commissioners refused to extend a state-mandated development order for another five years.

That means the estimated $1-billion commercial/residential project must go through bureaucratic hoops again and spend additional funds to obtain a new development order if they want to pursue the project.

Through their Orlando attorney, Cecelia Bonifay, landowners Willoughby Cox, a retired banker, and Karick Price, a former citrus grove owner in North and South Florida, said they would fight Lake County’s ruling in court.

The landowners needed the extension because they haven’t found a buyer for the dirt and are unable to break ground themselves on the project’s first 44-home phase by the Dec. 18 deadline.

The project calls for the development of 2,434 homes; 120,000 sf of commercial; an undetermined amount of retail; and two 18-hole golf courses. The venture would take 10 years to build out.

Over 100 residents in nearby municipalities of Clermont, Groveland, Mascotte and Montverde stormed the Lake County public hearing room, demanding the project be rejected.

Most of the residents say they are not anti-development, only anti-density foes. The majority of the protesters live in single-family residences on five-acre lots in a rural, pastoral setting about 30 miles west of Downtown Orlando.

They fear a project the size of Sugarloaf Mountain would require a much higher density for the planned homes and permanently cripple their rural lifestyle and neighborhoods.

County officials confirm that if the same development were approved under current land-use regulations, only 286 homes would be permitted. That would be the death knell for Sugarloaf Mountain, say developers familiar with the project.

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