Homeowners file suit over promised 'lakefront' lot
Article Courtesy of the St. Petersburg Times

The builder promised a lakefront home, but instead the homeowners are on a Swiftmud-mandated wetland mitigation pond, the suit says. 
Published September 25, 2002 

DADE CITY -- For Land O'Lakes residents Dennis and Sheila McDonald, there's a difference between a pond and a wetland -- especially if you live next to one. 

The couple on Monday filed suit against Pulte Home Corp. claiming the company lied to them in 2000 when they bought their home on Yacht Club Terrace, in the Landings at Bell Lake subdivision. 

According to the suit, the McDonalds were told when they were house shopping that they were buying a lot on a retention pond. They said they paid a premium for the lot, "purportedly lakefront property adjacent to a retention pond." They said it was supposed to be the same kind of pond that was behind the model homes on display. 

Instead, they said, they learned it was actually a Southwest Florida Water Management District-mandated wetland mitigation pond. 

"The wetland mitigation area precludes the quiet enjoyment of plaintiff's home," the suit says. "It attracts and supports vermin, snakes and alligators and produces a strong odor commonly associated with rotting vegetation." 

County records show the couple paid $174,000 for the home in March 2000. 

The McDonalds' suit, filed in Circuit Court by the Boca Raton firm of Seiden, Alder & Matthewman, claims Pulte agents lied to the couple in the sales presentation, telling them during a tour that the area was dry because of the ongoing drought, but when the rains returned it would look the same as other ponds. 

The couple said last year they learned it was a mitigation area, "filled with alligators, frogs, turtles, mosquitoes and other unknown native wildlife animals." 

According to the suit, the couple tried to get their money back, but have been unsuccessful. 

A telephone call seeking comment from Pulte's Michigan headquarters was not returned Tuesday. 

The McDonalds' suit alleges fraud, breach of contract, misleading advertisement and violation of fair trade practices. The suit seeks unspecified damages more than the $15,000 threshold for Circuit Court and demands a jury trial.