Sunday, January 21, 2018
News Roundup

Dispute with Odessa concrete plant drags on

NEW PORT RICHEY — The owner of a concrete plant in Odessa asked Pasco County officials on Tuesday to hold off on a zoning change, dragging out a dispute with neighbors who say the plant's dust and noise are ruining their lives.

Pasco commissioners had scheduled a public hearing to consider a request by A+ Concrete to rezone its property at State Road 54 and Black Lake Road in Odessa, next to the 311-home Ashley Lakes neighborhood.

But given that commissioners last month denied the company's request to allow heavy industrial uses at the concrete plant, the company pulled its zoning request.

Instead, it will submit a separate argument, based on "vested rights," for why it should be allowed to continue operating.

About a dozen Ashley Lakes residents showed up to the meeting expecting to be heard. Now, it could be months before they can make their case. A+ needs time to submit its argument and county attorney Jeffrey Steinsnyder needs time to review it and make a recommendation to commissioners. Then a public hearing must be scheduled.

"For us it means four more months of dust damaging our cars and our homes," said Pierre Herbert, 62. "This plant is running seven days a week. It never stops."

Residents say the thick gritty dust blankets cars and seeps into houses, ruining air conditioning systems, furniture and appliances.

Commission Chairman Jack Mariano said he was as surprised as anybody and only heard about the scheduling change the day of the meeting.

Steinsnyder said the company will argue it has a vested right to continue its operations because of statements by zoning officials several years ago that allowed it to do so.

The nearly 4.5-acre site was originally part of a 14-acre parcel zoned for agricultural and residential uses. The zoning was changed in 2003 to allow industrial uses.

A+ took over the lease in 2010 and started a dry-mix business. It asked to expand its operations, adding a wet-mix tower in 2011. Thinking this was a continuation of an existing use, county staffers signed off on the permit, which turned out to be a mistake.

Last month, the company sought to change the area's land use and zoning designations to bring it into compliance. But after hearing from Ashley Lakes residents, commissioners ruled against the land-use request and put off the zoning request until Tuesday.

In other business, county commissioners adopted a resolution urging that the trauma center at Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point be allowed to remain open because it saves lives.

The resolution came as Tampa General Hospital, Bayfront Heath St. Petersburg and St. Joseph's Hospital are suing to close the Bayonet Point center, which is operated by the HCA hospital chain, arguing that there is no need for it. The hospitals are fighting HCA's entry into the trauma center market.

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

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