Citrus County blocks stop-work order in Inverness development before it starts

iv4 house
'Due to this conflict, I am unable to carry out your directive.'

A plan to stop all construction in an Inverness development plagued with road and drainage problems has died before it started.

Citrus County Commissioners voted a week ago to halt activity on 90 active building permits in Inverness Villages 4 in hopes of encouraging principles to negotiate a solution.

County Administrator Steve Howard later told Commissioners state law says an unlicensed person cannot direct licensed building officials to take action on permits.

In an email to Commissioners, Howard wrote: “It was brought to my attention yesterday from the County’s licensed building code administrator ‘building official’ that the decision the Board of County Commissioners made conflicted with Florida Statutes. My duty as County Administrator is to carry out the directives and policies of the board of county commissioners and ensure they are faithfully executed. Due to this conflict, I am unable to carry out your directive.”

Board Chairman Holly Davis, who has spearheaded efforts to hold Inverness Villages 4 principals accountable, had recommended a stop-work order on active permits under Van Der Valk Construction, the IV 4 home builder.

The county already has a nearly one-year moratorium in place to prevent the nondeveloper, Anton Van Usen, from building home in low-lying lots that could be used for drainage.

Two state agencies, Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), and the Florida Wildlife Commission, have actions against Van Der Valk and Van Usen. DEP is asking a judge for an injunction to stop construction until wetlands-discharge permits are in place.

Davis recommended the county stop all work, including homes under construction under valid permits. Commissioners heard last week from Van Der Valk customers who said they shouldn’t be punished because of issues unrelated to their homes being built.

Inverness attorney Bill Grant, who said he represents some of the IV 4 homeowners, told Commissioners they have the authority to stop work on active permits.

County Attorney Denise Dymond Lyn had a different take.

“I don’t know why Mr. Grant said that. I don’t agree with him,” she said.

Davis didn’t ask Lyn for her opinion on the legality of a stop-work order. Commissioner Diana Finegan did, and Lyn reiterated that the county had no authority to do that.

Lyn also cautioned Commissioners to “be careful what you say” after receiving a letter from Van Der Valk attorney Kevin Dixon that alluded to public comments from Commissioners about Van Usen and Van Der Valk.

“At least one Commissioner has referred to Van Der Valk as a criminal turtle killer who should be in jail,” Dixon’s letter states. “I hope the Commissioners know there is no absolute immunity from these types of defamatory comments.”

Mike Wright

Mike Wright is a former reporter with the Citrus County Chronicle, where he had covered county government and politics since 1987. Mike's skills as an investigative reporter earned him first-place awards in investigative writing. Mike also helped the Chronicle win the Frances Devore Award for Public Service in 2002.


  • Andrew Finn

    February 14, 2024 at 11:18 am

    Gotta keep building !!!! We must pave over and build on every square inch of Florida. We are told not to use our water (except when the “Water Gestapo” allows it) because there is a so-called “shortage”. Of course all the local governments respond to this by passing out more building permits.

  • dennis

    February 14, 2024 at 2:29 pm

    The Moratorium is also against the Florida Statutes for Construction and they know about and still keep extending the Moratorium on the same token they have to lift the Moratorium . There are 20 plus owners in this situation.

  • Furman Martin

    February 14, 2024 at 7:15 pm

    When you do this you are hurting the poor smuck who was having his/her dream home, not the developer.

  • John

    February 15, 2024 at 8:16 am

    I would like to know what Florida Statue the BOCC conflicted with, Mr. Howard is required to identify specific code & section upon which he is basing his decision on. I noticed that the BOCC and administration fails to provide this type of info they just make a quote like Florida Statues or Florida State laws but can’t proved (or won’t), the Statue or law they are basing there information

Comments are closed.


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