Okeechobee County gives Bass Pro a year extension

The Okeechobee County commissioners have approved an extension to the Okee-Tantie contract to give Bass Pro another year to make a final decision.

The action came at the April 11 commission meeting in the Historic Okeechobee County Courthouse.

As discussed briefly at the last commission meeting, Big Cedar LLC (the company that operates Bass Pro’s resorts), has requested a one-year extension to the base option period. This would extend the option term until April 16, 2020.

Both Bass Pro and Big Cedar LLC were founded by Johnny Morris.

Over the past two weeks, Okeechobee County Attorney John Cassels worked with the Big Cedar attorney to finesse the details of the contract amendment.

John Cassels said Johnny Morris already signed a copy of the document so that it could be executed immediately if the county commission approved it.

The Big Cedar plans for Okee-Tantie include dredging a channel for a new marina, which would be for the exclusive use of the resort guests. The existing boat ramps and marina would remain open to public use.

Such dredging will require a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Bass Pro/Big Cedar wants to delay their final decision about Okee-Tantie until they obtain the needed permit from the corps.

“We are going to help you with that permit,” County Commissioner Terry Burroughs assured the Big Cedar attorney at the meeting.

Items already completed in the Okee-Tantie project include surveying the property, completing Phase 1 environmental study, development of a site plan and researching of all necessary local, state and federal permits required.

Items still to be completed (with time estimates), shared at the last commission meeting include:
• Investigation of structure cut and fill analysis (one month);
• Ecological study (estimated to take three months);
• Wetland delineation (three months);
• Expanded environmental impact report (six months);
• Prepare U.S. Army Corps of Engineers permit application (six months);
• Environmental Resources Permit Application (12-15 months);
• Consumptive Use Assessment (12-15 months);
• FDEP wastewater permitting (12-15 months);
• FDOT Access Management Permit, site zoning (12-15 months);
• National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permitting (12-15 months);
• Final site plan development (12-15 months);
• Overall permitting, management and logistics (12-15 months);
• Site development construction drawings (12-15 months).

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