Thursday, January 18, 2018
News Roundup

County staff recommends closing East Pasco homeless shelter

East Pasco's only homeless shelter would have to close its daily operations within a year under a recommendation from the county's zoning staff.

The Chancey Road Christian Church in Zephyrhills has been operating a daily shelter since last summer, housing roughly 35 to 40 people each night. But it needs a special permit to continue operating, and zoning officials concluded this week that the shelter isn't a good fit for the rural residential area.

"At the end of the day, even though there is a need and this is a wonderful thing, it's location that matters," said zoning administrator Debra Zampetti. Her staff issued the recommendation in advance of a Wednesday meeting before the Planning Commission.

She noted statistics from the Sheriff's Office showing 19 calls for service related to the church in 2010. Last year, that figure jumped to 50. She also pointed to numerous objections from neighbors, including a letter from Dale Winbigler, who lives across the street on Lanier Road.

Winbigler, 53, described an incident where a young man knocked on her door asking for water one afternoon because he could not yet return to the shelter. Her husband gave the man some water, but the couple had to urge him to get off their front porch.

"I used to think my neighborhood was safe, but with this already happening I am starting to get worried," she wrote. "I have children and grandchildren that I will worry about playing in my own front yard."

County zoning laws say the church at 34921 Chancey Road needs a conditional use permit to operate such a residential facility in certain areas. After several complaints, a code enforcement officer issued a cease-and-desist order to the church in December, but the county quickly backtracked.

Officials agreed that the shelter can remain open temporarily until an April hearing before the County Commission, as long as church leaders worked to address concerns of neighbors.

Clarke Hobby, a lawyer representing the church, said the church has done just that.

"We agreed to a whole series of conditions to ensure there weren't any homeless people milling about during the day," he said. "That's the real problem."

The church scaled back its original plan for a 120-bed shelter to 50 beds. Guns, alcohol or drugs would be prohibited. It also agreed to require everyone who stays at the shelter to arrive by 10 p.m. and leave by 8 a.m. Most people leaving in the morning would board a van headed for Career Connections 6 miles away on Gall Boulevard. People could leave on bikes if they're heading to a job.

"We can all find a way to make this work, because the county needs this," Hobby said. "It's a big mistake just to say no. It's just a matter of taking care of the neighborhood responsibly."

Under Zampetti's plan, the church would wind down its operations over the next year and close in April 2013. In the meantime, it would be limited to 35 beds, which is roughly the number of people it serves now. It would also have to evict anyone who violates the shelter's policies.

Even if the proposal is approved, Zampetti said the church could make another request to continue running the shelter if it can prove it has curtailed problems in the surrounding neighborhood.

Lee Logan can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6236.

Comments
Crystal Lagoon planners cut the ribbon on a chilly day (w/video)

Crystal Lagoon planners cut the ribbon on a chilly day (w/video)

WESLEY CHAPEL — Mother Nature seems to have a way of putting a chill on one of the hottest amenities in residential real estate development.Members of the business community, elected officials and executives with Metro Development Group and Crystal L...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Booty and books on Blackbeard’s ship; critics warn new Trump offic would allow doctors to discriminate; more in U.S. news

Booty and books on Blackbeard’s ship; critics warn new Trump offic would allow doctors to discriminate; more in U.S. news

North CarolinaBooty and books on boardDead men tell no tales, but there’s new evidence that somebody aboard the pirate Blackbeard’s flagship harbored books among the booty. In an unusual find, researchers have discovered shreds of paper bearing legib...
Updated: 3 hours ago

Consumer agency to spend rainy day funds

NEW YORK — The Trump-appointed acting director of the federal government’s consumer watchdog agency requested zero dollars of funding for its second-quarter budget, saying he intends to first spend down the agency’s rainy day fund. In a letter to the...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Man free on bail during DUI manslaughter appeal arrested for drinking alcohol

Man free on bail during DUI manslaughter appeal arrested for drinking alcohol

A Tampa man convicted of DUI manslaughter for drunkenly running down a tourist and released on bail while his case winds through the appeals process was arrested Tuesday.Brock Troutman, 34, violated the conditions of his release from jail by consumin...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Family recalls troubled youth for teen killer, now 39, who seeks new sentence

Family recalls troubled youth for teen killer, now 39, who seeks new sentence

TAMPA — The bearded man with shackled hands sat weeping as he listened to witness after witness — his mother, aunt and sister among them — recount his childhood of poverty, abuse, and depression.Kyle Moran leaned forward occasionally, stretching to w...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Tropical Breeze patron rides shuttle to check on crew

Tropical Breeze patron rides shuttle to check on crew

PORT RICHEY — Loretta Santini was one of a small group of customers boarding a Tropical Breeze Casino shuttle Thursday afternoon as the company sailed for the first day since another of its shuttle boats burned to the water Sunday, killing one woman....
Updated: 4 hours ago

The Reading File: Excerpts from interesting articles

Exploring the gray areasIn the Atlantic, James Hamblin writes that "the story of Aziz Ansari and ‘Grace’ is playing out as a sort of Rorschach test." Read "This Is Not A Sex Panic" in full at http://theatln.tc/2mOvCKf. Here’s an excerpt.To target onl...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Joe Henderson: Leaders can’t job-out responsibility for bad substitute teachers

Joe Henderson: Leaders can’t job-out responsibility for bad substitute teachers

Sometimes, people in authority need a reality check before they can recognize a problem that should have been obvious. In this case, it took a meticulously reported story last Sunday by education writer Marlene Sokol of the Tampa Bay Times to alert ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

Editorial: More talk, answers needed on future of USF St. Petersburg

The Florida Legislature’s abrupt move to strip the University of South Florida St. Petersburg of its hard-earned separate accreditation and transform it back into a satellite of the major research university lacks detail and an appreciation for histo...
Updated: 5 hours ago
DUI arrest: Tampa man mistakes bank drive-thru for Taco Bell

DUI arrest: Tampa man mistakes bank drive-thru for Taco Bell

SPRING HILL — A 38-year-old Tampa man was arrested Wednesday on a charge of driving under the influence involving drugs or alcohol after deputies said he mistook a Bank of America drive-thru for a Taco Bell.The branch manager of the Mariner Boulevard...
Updated: 6 hours ago