Wednesday, February 21, 2018
News Roundup

Court rejects Brooksville's plan to annex property

BROOKSVILLE — A state appeals court has rejected the city of Brooksville's plan to annex nearly 900 acres east of the Southern Hills Plantation, siding with Hernando County in the case.

The unanimous decision released on Friday reversed a lower court's Oct. 31 ruling, which permitted the city's annexation despite the county's legal objections. The county argued the move was illegal because it created a "pocket" of unincorporated land within the municipalities' boundaries.

In the two-sentence opinion, the three-judge 5th District Court of Appeal panel agreed, concluding that Senior Circuit Judge Victor Musleh "departed from the essential requirements of the law."

"Obviously, this is a big for us," Assistant County Attorney Jon Jouben said Monday.

City Manager Jennene Norman-Vacha did not returns calls seeking comment.

The city's attorney, Derrill McAteer with Hogan Law Firm, refused to comment, saying the city could still ask for a rehearing on the issue. McAteer, who also once represented the property's owners, gave no indication whether the city would appeal.

The land in question is south of downtown, roughly between Hope Hill Road on the west and County Road 581 on the east.

The City Council voted to annex the property — 225 acres owned by Bell Fruit Co. and 658 acres owned by James DeMaria, owner of Blue Stone Development Corp. — in November 2006.

By doing so, it left a narrow peninsula of county-controlled land in between the annexed portion and the current Southern Hills development.

The city has argued that it does not qualify as a illegal pocket because it connects to county property to the north along Hope Hill Road.

Even with the ruling, the future of this 900-acre parcel remains unknown. LandMar Group LLC, the developer of Southern Hills, previously disclosed its plans to develop the land if DeMaria would sell.

Neither party could be reached for comment Monday, but DeMaria has said in the past that he bought it as a weekend retreat and hunting ground.

At this point, the court's ruling potentially could block LandMar's growth plans for this area.

Another possibility could be the rebirth of joint conversations between the city and the county about a planning agreement for this area. The initial meetings dating back to 2006 went nowhere.

County Commissioner Diane Rowden welcomes a new start and noted that many of the players have changed.

"I think what's important is this gives us the opportunity to have managed growth and not the anything-goes growth that were seen in some cases," she said.

"… We have to figure it out because we all do live in this same county."

John Frank can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 754-6114.

Comments
The Daystarter: Kucherov gets it in gear; student protestors reach Tallahassee; and St. Petersburg’s black pioneers get their own documentary.

The Daystarter: Kucherov gets it in gear; student protestors reach Tallahassee; and St. Petersburg’s black pioneers get their own documentary.

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.• For the latest legislative coverage from Tallahassee, keep checking The Buzz, which is updated throughout the day by the reporters of the Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau.• Re...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Documentary pays homage to St. Pete’s black pioneers (w/video)

Documentary pays homage to St. Pete’s black pioneers (w/video)

ST. PETERSBURG — In the 1940s, David and Archie Boston grew up together in the Gas Plant neighborhood and hung out together on 22nd Street S, where black residents created their own main street, their own haven, in the midst of a segregated city.The ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Today’s WriteLane podcast: Narratives off the news

Today’s WriteLane podcast: Narratives off the news

Today’s WriteLane is about finding narratives off the news.The weekly podcast features Lane DeGregory, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter at the Tampa Bay Times, discussing her stories and answering questions. The focus is on craft.In this week’s epis...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Florida lawmaker’s aide fired after saying outspoken Parkland students are actors

Florida lawmaker’s aide fired after saying outspoken Parkland students are actors

It bubbled up from the darkest online corners then began to take off: conspiracy theories about Parkland students who’ve spent the past week on TV demanding action on the gun violence that killed 17 and reawakened a national debate.By late Tuesday af...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Updated: 5 hours ago

High school scoreboard for Feb. 20

Tuesday’s scoreboardSoftballAdmiral Farragut 17, St. Petersburg Cath. 0BaseballGulf Coast HEAT 9, Canterbury 4Calvary Chr. 6, Lakeland Chr. 1
Updated: 6 hours ago
Officers: When an active shooter attacks, survive by taking action

Officers: When an active shooter attacks, survive by taking action

LARGO — An Illinois teacher used confrontation. A campus safety monitor in Seattle attacked with pepper spray and physical force. An assistant football coach in Indiana shouted as he chased him into the woods.All were civilians who took down an activ...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Under a new law, some public schools will be managed by companies. Pinellas is getting ready

Under a new law, some public schools will be managed by companies. Pinellas is getting ready

LARGO — Pinellas County School Board members are not happy about the prospect of having to hand over academic control at three struggling schools to a private company, and paying the firm up to $2 million on top of it. But that’s the course they must...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Career Q&A: Nut allergy is a serious workplace concern

Career Q&A: Nut allergy is a serious workplace concern

Q: My manager has recently started eating nuts at her desk, which is located right next to mine. Unfortunately, I have a serious nut allergy, so any contact with them could produce a life-threatening reaction. Even foods which contain tiny pieces of ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Lawsuit accuses FSU fraternity, national chapter of negligence in pledge’s death

Lawsuit accuses FSU fraternity, national chapter of negligence in pledge’s death

The parents of Andrew Coffey, the Florida State University student who died from alcohol poisoning after an apparent hazing episode last year, have sued the national Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity and nine of its members for their son’s death.Coffey, who wa...
Updated: 8 hours ago