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ORLANDO-In a scenario reminiscent of old-time vaudeville scenes, Gov. Jeb Bush’s Cabinet Affairs staff declined to recommend a final decision on the 10-year-old, controversial 1,433-acre Sugarloaf Mountain mixed-use venture in rural south Lake County.

Bush has through Oct. 30 to rule on whether Orlando developers Willoughby T. Cox and Karick Price may proceed with their five-year extension on the project.

The developers had originally planned to develop 2,259 single-family homes, 175 condominium units and apartments; two 18-hole championship-caliber golf courses; and an undetermined amount of commercial and retail. The projected $1.2 billion venture would take 20 years to build out.

Anti-development groups are pressing the governor to bar the entire undertaking on grounds the developers haven’t turned a spade on the 350-foot-high site in 10 years.

Lake County commissioners refused last year to extend the developer’s nine-year construction permit for another five years. But when the developers appealed to Administrative Judge Donald Alexander in Tallahassee, the judge overruled the county and gave the developers a five year extension.

Cox and Price are selling the land at an undisclosed price to an investment consortium headed by Tampa, FL broker John Reaves, a former quarter at the University of Florida. GlobeSt.com couldn’t learn if that contract is still valid. Reaves, Cox and Price couldn’t be reached at GlobeSt.com’s publication deadline.

This is the second governor and Cabinet the project has faced in the last seven years. In 1994, the late Gov. Lawton Chiles approved the enterprise despite similar protests from environmentalists and residents.

Lake County officials meet Friday morning–four days before the governor’s expected decision–to decide if it would be prudent for the county to buy the property with non-property tax dollars. The county would use its share of state funds derived from dog track racing revenue.

A longtime area broker familiar with Tallahassee and Lake County politics tells GlobeSt.com the refusal of the governor’s staff to deal with the issue reminds him of an old routine by the late Hollywood comedians Bud Abbott and Lou Costello.

“In this scenario, however, you know who is on first base but you don’t know who is on second and third bases, and you don’t know who is going to steal home,” the broker says. “It’s a typical buck-passing routine.”

(Please see earlier story on page, Lake County Bows Out of Sugarloaf Mountain Race.)

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