Some Crystal Lagoon residents upset with fees

- Operators of a high-profile housing community are responding to neighbors who say they didn't get what they were promised.

Wesley Chapel's Crystal Lagoon opened in April with a visit by Olympic superstar Michael Phelps. Since then, construction had to be halted at the 7.5-acre pool. And some residents say the planned fees are an outrage.

Jonathan Smith planned on the $25-per-month, per-household fee to be all-inclusive for things like kayaks, paddle boards, and inflatable water parks.

He points to Facebook posts from the developer, Epperson, that said, "All lagoon living series are part of the same fee."

Several emails from executives to prospective buyers said they would not have to pay to use extras.

But some became angry when they saw the amenities were being sold at tiers from $20 to $90 per-person, per-month.

"It's upsetting because these are things we bought into," said Smith. "We were promised these things."

After we started working on this story Friday, Epperson sent out an email with new user fees. The tiers are being dropped to between $5 and $22 per-person, per-month for anyone who moves in by June 25.

And, lawyers wrote a group of residents who threatened legal action that the by-laws clearly state additional charges are at the club owner's sole discretion.

Some understand the need for increased costs.

"I don't think fairness is the word to be used. It's not fair or unfair," said Kip Lessem. "It's business."

Even though some of the homes are open, the lagoon is not, as the county found some of the buildings there were built without permits.

Epperson thanked residents for patience as they worked through the launch of the first-of-its-kind lagoon.

"I have my beach literally a six-minute golf cart ride from my house," said resident Ken Shere. "When all the other things come online, it is going to be even easier."

Epperson does say some of the discounts they are promising will sunset over the next several years.

They released a statement saying they want to hear more feedback from residents so they can work with them.

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