WW II bomb detonations at Orlando development upsets neighbors

More World War II era munitions discovered, destroyed at Vista Lakes

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ORLANDO, Fla. – Complaints continue over the planned Vista Park development as neighbors still struggle with the project's size, paired with controlled detonations. 

The 1,500-acre plot just off Lee Vista Boulevard used to be home to Pinecastle Jeep Range, which the military used as a bombing range during the World War II era.

Benjamin Rodriguez served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and lives in nearby Vista Lakes. Because of the construction and the detonations, he said he wants to move away from it all in order to avoid hearing a familiar sound he'd rather forget.

"It makes me feel disheartened and disappointed," he said. "I moved out here for peace and tranquility, not to have bombs going off right outside my neighborhood. To be hearing stuff like that, it triggers my emotions."

A 2017 updated Powerpoint presentation from the developer shows the nearly 2,000 pieces of munition they've found on the site since they started, including practice bombs, rifle grenades and rockets from a bazooka. In 2007, munitions were found near Odyssey Middle School, prompting concerns from parents.

For the past few years, Vista Lakes Community Development District Chairman Frank Sebestyn has watched as work continued and trees were cleared at the nearby development to make room for more than 4,000 new homes.

"This is huge," Sebestyn said. "They've done it in segments starting down near Lake Nona and then slowly worked its way up here."

News 6 acquired a recent letter from Orlando City Commissioner Jim Gray, which addresses the trees being cut down.

A revised version of the note was sent to neighbors, which removes any reference to buffer trees being replaced upon completion of the project.

A third note from the commissioner suggests cleanup on the site could be completed by November, with a signoff from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection by July 2020. It also details how the owner plans to build a six-foot border fence with a shade cloth within the next 10 days.

News 6 emailed the developer about neighborhood concerns but has not gotten a response. 

About the Author:

It has been an absolute pleasure for Clay LePard living and working in Orlando since he joined News 6 in July 2017. Previously, Clay worked at WNEP TV in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where he brought viewers along to witness everything from unprecedented access to the Tobyhanna Army Depot to an interview with convicted double-murderer Hugo Selenski.