Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hernando Commissioners can't appease every resident

I used to hear it all the time as a reporter, that tired expression I'm sure you've heard, too:

"NIMBYs,'' a developer would say, shaking his head in disgust and muttering about a spineless County Commission that folds to local interests.

NIMBY, of course, stands for "not in my back yard,'' and a classic example came along a year ago last week. The commission, looking to appease angry residents, shot down a Wal-Mart Supercenter planned for Barclay Avenue that the company had a clear right to build.

It may have happened again — or, I should say, it looked like it was about to happen — on Friday afternoon when a developer pulled the plug on a recreational vehicle park planned for 24.4 acres near Aripeka.

Because the landowner, Dial One LLC, didn't give a reason for this decision, the project's opponents can only offer a guess: that the company feared its plan would be voted down by commissioners looking out over a sea of furious residents from Aripeka and Hernando Beach.

"In the 16 years we've been doing this, we have never felt we were in touch with such a big part of a community,'' said Leslie Neumann, of the Gulf Coast Conservancy. "Everybody was instantly up in arms over this.''

Why this development and not others?

The lead name on the application, Gary Grubbs, probably had something to do with it.

He built his construction and emergency services businesses on taxpayer money and then stiffed the county on nearly $500,000 in tax bills, said tax collector Juanita Sikes. Though the sum has since been repaid, mostly by creditors after Grubbs' 2003 bankruptcy, the county is still out $90,000 in attorney's fees.

The few imminently threatened black bears that sometimes roam the Dial One property on Osowaw and Shoal Line boulevards no doubt helped the opposition.

Also, these "boulevards'' are actually crowded two-lane roads. Traffic concerns were mentioned in several of the 35 opposition e-mails sent to the county and the same issue killed an earlier plan for a park at Weeki Wachee Preserve.

That vote showed that appeasing voters often can lead to bad decisions. I've seen plenty of developers get a raw deal after following all the rules. The county has potentially disastrous gaps in its network of frontage roads created by the need to keep a few residents happy.

But, let's be realistic: land use policy usually favors developers; neighborhood political pressure can sometimes just restore a little balance. And neighbors do, after all, deserve a say.

The Dial One property is designated by the county as conservation land and has enough environmental value that the Southwest Florida Water Management District has considered buying it.

I don't think the county comprehensive plan should have allowed the developer's plan: 100 paved pads for large, gas-guzzling RVs and a "country store'' twice the size of a stand-alone pharmacy.

But it did, just as zoning laws seemed to guarantee the right of Wal-Mart to build the store on Barclay — which is another reason to bring up that decision.

Not only did nearby residents not want that Supercenter, the county didn't need it.

That vote was a clear case of political pandering — and absolutely right.

Hernando Commissioners can't appease every resident 05/10/08 [Last modified: Monday, May 12, 2008 10:42am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Video: Rays Souza on that oh-so-bad dive, and reaction from Twins fans


    What was Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. thinking when he made that oh-so-bad dive for a ball in the seventh inning Friday? Well, we'll let him tell you ...

  2. What was Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. thinking on that comically bad dive?


    What could Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. been thinking in the seventh inning Friday when he dove for a ball and came up yards short?

    Actually, he insisted after all the laughing, teasing and standing ovation from the Twins fans was done, it was a matter of self-preservation.

  3. Judge tosses life sentences for D.C. sniper Lee Boyd Malvo


    McLEAN, Va. — A federal judge on Friday tossed out two life sentences for one of Virginia's most notorious criminals, sniper Lee Boyd Malvo, and ordered Virginia courts to hold new sentencing hearings.

    A federal judge has tossed out two life sentences for D.C. sniper shooter Lee Boyd Malvo. [Associated Press, 2004]
  4. Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter's national security adviser, dies


    Zbigniew Brzezinski, the hawkish strategic theorist who was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter in the tumultuous years of the Iran hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970s, died on Friday at a hospital in Virginia. He was 89.

    Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, participates in Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on March 5, 2009, in Washington, D.C. [Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]
  5. USF eliminated by UCF in AAC baseball; Florida, FSU, Miami win


    CLEARWATER — Roughly 16 hours after a ninth-inning collapse against East Carolina in the American Athletic Conference's double-elimination baseball tournament, USF returned to Spectrum Field presumably set for a reboot.

    It simply got booted instead.

    ’NOLES win: Tyler Holton gets a hug from Drew Carlton after his strong eight innings help Florida State beat Louisville.