BY JACK SHORT – Boca Norte, LLC, owners of the former Mercabo facility have, in the last few months, purchased land in the same region over which Charlotte County is engaged in a lawsuit with conservation groups.
The corporation, registered in Venice, Fl., purchased the 1.16 acre lot at 12575 Placida Rd. and easement that used to be the site of Grande Tours in December, 2014, for $820,000. The property is zoned RMF-T, or Residential Multi Family Tourist, which purpose is to permit multifamily dwellings and tourist-related commercial facilities, according to Charlotte County land use regulations.
BN has owned property across the street: 14041, 14050, and 14051 Gasparilla Road, a now defunct marine testing facility, for several years. That property is zoned for RSF 3.5, IG, and MP, or, Residential Single Family, General Industrial and Marine Park, respectively.
In addition to the recent purchase, about which the former owner of the property, Capt. Marion Schneider, declined to comment at the request of the buyer, Boca Norte also petitioned to intervene in a lawsuit over density in the Cape Haze area.
In January, they petitioned to intervene as defendants in a case brought against Charlotte County by Friends of Cape Haze, a local conservation group, and Sierra Club, a national conservation group.
Both groups allege that by removing or altering language related to density in areas like the Cape Haze peninsula, the will open up the way for high density development and exacerbate what they say are already egregious evacuation times off island during emergencies.
Representatives of Boca Norte did not respond to requests for comment as of press time.
Boca Norte is owned by Brad Kelley, who has a residence on Gasparilla Island.