Saturday, June 23, 2018
News Roundup

Despite concerns, site for temporary Spring Hill fire station gets tentative okay

BROOKSVILLE — A temporary site for a new Spring Hill fire station got a favorable review by the Hernando County Planning and Zoning Commission on Wednesday, though neighbors of the 4.4-acre site had a different opinion.

The County Commission will get the final say next month on the temporary station, on the east side of Eldridge Road south of Spring Hill Drive.

Officials said the location will be a stopgap while the county plans the construction of Spring Hill Station 5, which was recommended in the county's comprehensive fire study in 2007.

The permanent station will go on the west side of the Spring Hill Branch/Harold G. Zopp Memorial Library property on Spring Hill Drive, which is near the temporary location, according to Spring Hill fire Chief Mike Rampino. Construction of the permanent station is anticipated in three to five years.

Russell Little, who lives across the street from the temporary site, brought a petition with signatures of 16 of his neighbors opposing the site to Wednesday's meeting because of the noise and the traffic.

"We live in a residential neighborhood. Find another place for it,'' Little said. "Our property values are low enough.''

Little told planning commission members that he had once lived across the street from a fire station for 15 years and "it was a nightmare'' because "it does not stop — the traffic, the noise, the activity.''

He said he and his neighbors fear that the temporary station will damage their home values because no one wants to live near a fire station.

"How can you even think about building this when the county is broke?'' he asked. "This is a quiet neighborhood. Leave it that way.''

Little also said there will be an issue getting fire equipment in and out of the site on Sundays when the overflow parking from a nearby church clogs the streets with extra vehicles.

Rampino explained that the fire station will try to be a good neighbor and avoid operating lights and sirens in the middle of the night whenever possible. He also stressed that it would be temporary and that there is a need for fire and rescue service in the surrounding area.

"We have a severe service delivery gap,'' he said, noting that there has been a need for some time and that call volumes have increased. Currently, Spring Hill Fire Rescue sometimes keeps an ambulance parked at the library to serve that portion of the community, he said.

The temporary station will be established in a modular building that will be moved to the site, if the County Commission approves. It is the same modular building used when Spring Hill Fire Rescue constructed Station 3.

To clarify that the temporary site on Eldridge would not be permanent, county officials included language whereby the special overlay district required for the site would expire after five years.

If something changes in the interim, fire officials can return to the planning commission for an amendment, said Ron Pianta, the county's land services director.

The County Commission will consider the issue on Dec. 11.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1434.

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