I was canvassing in Lake Padgett Estates in Land O Lakes two weeks ago and was knocking on doors on Ocean Pines Drive. You may not know the street name, but you more than likely have heard about the sinkhole that developed last year and destroyed homes and condemned others.
As I drove around the neighborhood, I noticed a number of for sale signs. Houses in the area are sitting on the market longer and are selling for a lower price than surrounding areas. Surveys done around the sinkhole show a number of anomalies that may or may not become future sinkholes. This causes a lot of hesitation for buyers.
The history of the land under Lake Padgett Estates is an interesting one. Much of the area used to be part of a lake/ wetlands. Many people, if you've been around long enough, remember the area as orange groves. As was often the case, when they started to develop the land for housing, the shoreline was extended to build more waterfront properties. This means homes, like the ones that were swallowed in the July 2017 sinkhole, were at one point part of the lake. When extending the shoreline, especially when done improperly, there is a chance for sinkholes to develop.
The particularly frustrating aspect of this sinkhole is that there was a sinkhole in the same location years prior. The owners did not do the repair the sinkhole in the manner recommended. Instead, a cheaper method was utilized. But since any method of repair is categorized as "stabilized", the individuals that purchased that home did not know that the repair was not done as recommended. They had no idea that under the home, a sinkhole was just waiting to open. This lack of clarity fails to protect consumers.
When renting, the owner has no legal requirement to inform the tenant about any sinkhole activity. Where are the protections for the renters in these cases? Yet again, the legislation is failing to protect consumers.
The Lake Padgett sinkhole destroyed 2 homes and has condemned 8 more. A report done shortly after the sinkhole opened showed that 30% of sinkhole homes repaired were not done according to the engineers' recommendations. Those homes may never have another sinkhole appear but there's always a chance they could. This sinkhole has shown that it's not just 1 person, 1 family that can be impacted. Numerous lives have been impacted by this sinkhole. It's irresponsible to sit back and not take action to provide better consumer protections for sinkholes.
*I want to express my appreciation for those that took the time to tell me their story about how they've been impacted by this.