After debating for more than an hour last week, the Monroe County Commission in the Florida Keys has approved a redevelopment agreement for the Calusa Campground in Key Largo. 

The owners of Calusa, on the bayside at mile marker 101, want to redevelop most of the 367 RV units into seasonal rentals. But the owners’ lawsuit against MnM’s of the Keys Inc. and Meleric Investments Inc. over an access road to the campground delayed a commission vote last month, according to KeysNet, Tavernier. 

Chief Assistant County Attorney Bob Shillinger said because Calusa paid half the cost to install the road in the 1970s, “the court ruled that was tantamount to an easement in perpetuity.” 

The redevelopment was approved, with the following conditions: 

  • Access to Calusa via neighboring Harbor Drive will be used for emergency vehicle access only. The main entrance must be the access road from U.S. 1. 
  • Dockage in the canal behind the campground cannot exceed 25% of the canal width. 
  • Trim mangroves to allow additional dockage in the canal. 
  • A uniformed officer will monitor the canal on all federal holidays. 

    Numerous Harbor Drive residents spoke at last month’s commission meeting. Most agreed Calusa should be allowed to redevelop — but not to their detriment. 

    Many pointed out code violations at Calusa and numerous complaints about campground residents made to the sheriff’s office. Calusa residents said the redevelopment is meant to correct those things. 

    The commission, particularly Commissioner Sylvia Murphy, and an attorney for Calusa argued back and forth about which stipulations to include and/or amend. Murphy was adamant the conditions remain as written, especially the marine officer. 

    “A big point of contention is the canal, and if you’re trying to tell me one more rather small boat is going to create chaos, then you’ve got way too much traffic in the canal anyway,” she said.