Pasco residents clash over Crystal Lagoon amenity fees

WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. — ABC Action News is uncovering yet another hurdle for the first-of-its-kind clear-water lagoon in Pasco County. 

We were first to report last month that Pasco County issued stop work orders on the water attraction because the developer, Tampa-based Metro Development Company, failed to acquire the proper permits. 

As the nation's first Crystal Lagoon sits locked and unused, several families who live in Epperson Ranch say they have been left with sticker shock about "Lagoon Living" prices. 

"It was all things that we want that they marketed to us, we feel it's false advertising," said Jonathan Smith. "I think everyone expected some hiccups, but when you're selling homes for $400,000 and $500,000 and I have a 30-year mortgage on the line, I don't want hiccups, I want results. I want answers."

A group of homeowners gathered Friday night to discuss possible legal action against the developer. 

They tell ABC Action News, they were promised all-inclusive access to everything Crystal Lagoon has to offer for a $25 per month fee. 

"They know that the benefits do not equal the bargain," said resident Phil Schepens. 

ABC Action News has learned that Metro Development Company is charging homeowners additional fees for some features like a bouncy slide, kayaks, and guest passes. 

"If I have a birthday party at the Lagoon for my 4-year-old daughter, I'm going to have to pay $500 for her friends to come," said Schepens. 

On Friday, the developer sent an email to residents offering new discounts. A three-tier membership costing between $20 and $90 is now capped at $22. Those prices will expire in four years. 

"All the perks, anything is reserved by Metro to do with what they want," said Epperson resident Ken Shere. "I wasn't blindsided by anything." 

ABC Action New showed Shere a Facebook message from Epperson stating extra amenities are covered in the base $25 "Lagoon Living" fee. 

"I do everything based on contract, that's my experience," said Shere. "Anybody can tell you anything, but if it's not in the contract, it's not in writing, it doesn't really mean anything."

Metro Development Company sent ABC Action News the following statement regarding the concerns of more than 60 Epperson Ranch residents. 

“The Epperson neighborhood has been extraordinarily popular, and we are honored that so many families are moving here and enjoying the area. We want all families to enjoy the neighborhood and amenities, and we have already extended new discounts and benefits to early residents. We want to hear feedback from residents about their questions so we can work with them to make the area even better as this neighborhood grows.”

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