General Development Corp., one of Florida's largest land developers, is under investigation for allegedly unfair and deceptive sales practices but hopes to settle the case through negotiations, the firm says.

General disclosed in a routine registeration statement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission that the Federal Trade Commission's regional office in Atlanta has recommended bringing a formal complaint against the company.

The statement noted, however, that the firm has offered to settle the FTC staff allegations by signing a consent order in which it would agree to certain consumer-oriented steps, including possible-and partial-refunds to homesite purchasers over the last three years.

FTC officials declined to comment on the matter, as is their legal custom when a case is still in the investigatory stage.

General which reported income of $91 million last year and profits of $8.6 million, is now in the midst of building seven "planned communities" in Florida. They include Port Charlotte on the Gulf coast, Port St. Lucie and Port Malabar on the Atlantic coast and Port La Belle in south central Florida.

The company's document filed with the SEC said the firm was willing to sign an FTC agreement in which it would formally deny any unlawful practices but nonetheless agree to take these steps:

Extend the purchaser's right of contract cancellation to five days from the signing date.

Limit General's retention of payments made prior to the cancellation of a contract to the amount that normally could be recovered in a court of law. Excess amounts would be refunded to purchasers whose contracts were cancelled within the past three years.