Somebody messed up. A high dollar Orlando subdivision and the nearby Odyssey Middle School are sitting on live explosives. The school and homes were built on the former site of the Army’s PineCastle Jeep Range. The developers who bought the land claim that the former status of the land was not clear on deeds, because the military had only leased the land. This argument isn’t holding much water with the residents suing the builders. Although the Army Corps of Engineers is spending over 10 million on the cleanup, they deny any culpability for the, I can’t resist, explosive situation. The development order issued by the county in 1989 clearly spelled out the history of the site and stipulated that building managers were to be notified if their were "suspected findings of potentially hazardous military material." The Army Corps also published a report in ’94 and ’97 that warned that the site "is a possible danger to the public." The reports specifically mentioned the likelihood of buried explosives. The first live bomb was found near the middle school’s track and a worker and some of the faculty were actually injured when an uncovered fragment ignited. Since then, over 126 bombs, rockets, and other pieces of military detritus have been located on the schools property alone. Since detection equipment cannot sense below streets or buildings, explosives are very likely to remain buried beneath the neighborhood and school. The homes that were originally sold in the range of a half-million dollars are now virtually worthless. The for-rent and for-sale signs dotting the neighborhood won’t be going anywhere soon. Enraged residents complain that they can’t even refinance their homes now. As bizarre and unlikely as this gross oversight/fraud seems, there are more than 9,000 such decommissioned sites around the country and the vast bulk of them have not been “cleaned up.” At least one, in Dallas, has a subdivision built on top of it too. Since you can’t trust the government, real estate brokers, or builders to look out for your basic interests, you may want to do a bit of independent research before purchasing your next home.                                                                                   

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