County buying 18 acres near landfill

BROOKSVILLE — Although they are not sure why they need it, county commissioners agreed Tuesday to buy 18 acres next to the county landfill for $383,000.

Commissioners agreed there might be a use at some point for the land, which fronts on U.S. 98 and is bordered on its south side by the landfill access road.

As utilities director Joe Stapf put it, "they're not making land anymore'' and especially not land next to such a critical county facility as the 360-acre landfill.

The move was supported by County Administrator David Hamilton who said the property could be very attractive to own in the future especially with so much frontage on a major road.

"I can see the value in this investment,'' said Commissioner Dave Russell, who liked the idea of seeing development of more public-private partnerships like the one at the landfill now in which methane from the landfill is being used to generate electricity.

Acting chairwoman Rose Rocco said she also liked the idea because what the county needs is "some forward thinking.''

Other ideas for the land included relocating the landfill office there and using the existing office for an enlarged recycling area, building offices on the site or using it as a satellite government center.

In other business:

• Commissioners will reconsider approval of a residential treatment center for patients with mental illnesses and substance abuse issues, which was approved earlier this month by the Planning and Zoning Commission.

Residents near the 11-acre site on Grove Road north of State Road 50 are worried about security, flooding and traffic if the 20-patient Westbridge facility is allowed in their residential neighborhood. The issue is set for the board's land use meeting in January.

• Commissioners moved Deputy Building Official Joe Creech to an interim building official status. The county has been using a consultant to perform the work but that contract is running out.

Hamilton said the recommendation to put Creech in the job for now would save money until the commission decides how to reorganize the Building Department as part of the overall plan to restructure local government.

Citizens questioned Creech's appointment and asked why a job search wasn't done. Hamilton said he is allowed to appoint from within and that, if a building official is needed in the new structure, he will likely post the position and seek applicants.

• Commissioners voted unanimously to support Hamilton's proposal to work with officials in Pasco County on common projects, especially the long-term improvement of County Line Road and utility expansions along the shared county border.

Hamilton and several of his senior directors met with their counterparts in Pasco last week to begin talking about how they could work together, possibly making the County Line Road project look more attractive if the federal government follows through with new stimulus money to jump-start the economy, as discussed in Washington.

• Commissioners approved a reorganization in the county's fleet operations, moving that function of government back over to the Department of Public Works, where it had been previously.

Hamilton proposed the idea to combine two unfilled positions into one new position that would span fleet and public works and allow the two entities to combine the fleet parts room and the public works store room into a more efficient operation.

• Commissioners agreed to spend $15,000 to acquire easements in south Brooksville that would be the first step in allowing county workers to access properties that have been subject to flooding over the years.

The city of Brooksville is a partner with the county in the project, which county and city officials say will eventually solve some of those long-time drainage issues plaguing the neighborhood.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at behrendt@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1434.

County buying 18 acres near landfill 12/16/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 16, 2008 9:28pm]

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