MONTVERDE, FL-It’s a big deal to nobody but Dana Combs, a resident of Choctaw descent who is fighting Lake County on the nearby mixed-use 1,500-acre Pine Island development.

The project overlooks Lake Apopka near County Road 455 under which a Timucuan tribe burial site is located, Combs contends. The site is 40 miles west of Downtown Orlando.

She argues 500 single-family and multifamily homes and two 18-hole golf courses planned at the site by Ginn Development Co. of Palm Coast, FL should be not be allowed over ground sacred to Native Americans. But a just-completed independent archaeological investigation ordered by Lake County finds evidence of human life at the County Road 455 location but no traces of human bones.

A county planning department staffer tells on condition of anonymity the investigation by Archaeological Consultants Inc. of Sarasota, FL “closes the book, so far as the county is concerned.” Unless Combs can supply documentary evidence of the burial site, a development order for Ginn Development’s estimated $75 million project would not be rescinded, the county maintains.

But that’s not good enough for Combs. couldn’t reach her at publication deadline but her supporters tell her next step will be to ask Clermont, FL contractor Cary Malever, president, J. Malever Co., for permission to sift through 17 truckloads of dirt removed during the recent $70,000 drainage-repair job at the County Road 455 location. The dirt is piled in a nearby pit and is owned by Malever.

Combs challenges a 1993 state archaeological report that found only evidence of stone tools but no bones in the development area. She argues that research was not properly done. The state maintains the lone tribal grave site it has documented is almost two miles from the Pine Island development and is not threatened by any new project.

Combs insists she has surveys documenting the existence of six historical burial sites on Pine Island and specifically at or near the proposed residential portion of the venture.

Associates of Ginn Development Co. and the J. Malever Co. tell they will continue to work with Combs in trying to locate evidence of the burial grounds.

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