Developers Withdraw Casino Permit Application

A small but vocal group of Clermont Harbor residents turned out Monday night for a public hearing. All were ready to let county leaders know just how they feel about a proposed casino resort in their neighborhood.

That's when they were stunned by a surprise announcement from the developers.

"We'd like to withdraw, at this time, the appeal, so that we can go back to planning commissioners to reapply. We want to correct everything to where it would be more acceptable to the community and to you gentlemen," Casino Developer Russell Elliott said.

Developers want to build what will be called "South Beach Casino and Resort" on property just west of the Clermont Harbor Pier.

Last month, planning and zoning commissioners denied permission to build because the developers didn't have the required acreage to build a casino resort.

"We've got the necessary amount of property at this time," Elliott said Monday.

Now, Russell Elliott and Kirk Ladner say they'll use extra time to take out language in their application that suggested the casino would feature adult entertainment.

"Where we're going with this is on my family's property that's been in my family for years and years and my grandfather would turn over in his grave if we put a nude bar or strip joint on that property, so that's just not going to happen," Elliott said.

Clermont Harbor Resident Michelle Nichols doesn't see the changes, changing her mind.

"Because you still have the traffic issue, you still have all these different environments. That doesn't belong in a community, a residential community," Nichols said.

Fellow residednt Gayle Childs agrees.

"I wouldn't want that in front of my house. I wouldn't want that blocking my view."

Developers say their new plans include working with residents in hopes of satisfying those concerns. The casino development would also need a zoning change in the area to declare a "special casino use district."

The president of the Clermont Harbor Civic Association says the developers would face less opposition if they moved the proposed development about a block West, farther away from residential homes.