After residents moved into a comfortable southeast Orlando neighborhood, they discovered some dark secrets. In the past months, live bombs and weapons debris have been found in people's yards, as well as at the local school, reports the Orlando Sentinel.
U.S. Army officials are now testing the area for potential toxins. The neighborhoods were built on the edge of the Pinecastle Jeep Range, and public records show that fill dirt taken from the range was used throughout the development.
Adding insult to injury, insurance companies that write home coverage in the affected Orlando neighborhoods of Vista Lakes, Crowntree Lakes and Tivoli Gardens may now drop their policies.
These troubles are compounded at a time when the housing market is really struggling, especially in over speculated Florida. Affected homeowners have no easy choices ahead of them.
One family, who purchased their home for $271,000 in November 2006, has it now listed on the market for $190,000. But even at that discount potential buyers have been reportedly scarce.
Most mortgages go into default if homeowners insurance is droped, and early indications are that no one in Florida will insure properties near old bomb ranges -- not even the state's public safety net insurer.
Believing the area's developers sold them up a toxic creek, a number of homeowners have launched a legal fight. Time will tell if they can get out of this explosive situation.
The rest of the country should take heed to ask questions about former land use, and to fight for more cleanup and accountability of old military sites. The Department of Defense is often accused of being America's biggest source for superfund and other toxic legacy sites, and many of its historic records of land use are classified or spotty at best.
But the public deserves to know when a bomb might be lurking under their tomatoes or child's school playground.
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