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Judge Blocks Potential FPL Plant Bordering Big Cypress Reservation


A circuit judge has blocked the possibility of Florida Power and Light building a power plant bordering the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation in Hendry County.

It came down to one word: utilities.

The Seminole Tribe of Florida was locked in a legal battle with Florida Power and Light, Hendry County and McDaniel Reserve Realty Holdings.

The fight was over whether an ordinance the county passed in 2011 allowing for a solar and gas-powered plant to be built on property next to tribal land lined up with the Hendry County Comprehensive Plan.

The ordinance rezoned the land under a policy whose permitted uses includes, among other things, “utilities.” FPL, which owns the land, said that word meant a power plant.

Judge Donald Mason disagreed.

Samuel Tommie lives on the reservation. He has concerns about possible environmental harm and the loss of Seminole artifacts if a plant was built on the site.

Tommie said he is happy with the ruling.
“I’m glad that the judicial system is in place to hear my tribal concern,” he said. “And that I feel like that we did have a chance to put our voice out there and put our argument out there and be heard.”

FPL spokesperson Sarah Gatewood said the company is reviewing the court’s decision.

“We’ll continue to work with Hendry County and all the local stakeholders to secure all the necessary approvals that we will need for any kind of potential project on that property in the future.”

Gatewood said FPL has no specific plans for the land.  

Read the ruling:

Topher is a reporter at WGCU News.