Friday, April 20, 2018
News Roundup

Divided Hernando commission okays controversial rezoning for marina in Hernando Beach

BROOKSVILLE — After more than 5 1/2 hours of testimony from attorneys, county staffers and dozens of residents, a divided Hernando County Commission on Tuesday approved a rezoning request by Blue Pelican Marina that has kept the Hernando Beach community in an uproar for nearly three months.

The final decision came down to the swing vote of Commissioner Jim Adkins, who wanted the county to make it clear that it was not going to put its planned Nature Coast environmental education center on the marina site, even though the center was still on the marina's application.

After a break, Adkins ultimately voted with commissioners Wayne Dukes and Dave Russell once they amended one of the 28 performance conditions recommended by the county planning staff. That condition outlined that there would be only passive recreational uses on the property. Without saying it directly, the condition would prohibit the education center, amphitheater or 200-seat theater on the site.

The rest of the planned uses were approved, including land use changes that allow an expanded marina operation, potential changes in boat trailer parking and access roads that would be further negotiated with the county, and 42 residential cabins and a lodge that have been discussed for the 31-acre site.

Commissioners Diane Rowden and Nick Nicholson voted no.

"We shouldn't be thinking about any kind of approval,'' said Rowden, who pushed to have the entire plan taken back to the drawing board.

Nicholson, an engineer who served previously on the Hernando County Planning and Zoning Commission, said he had never seen a rezoning with so many conditions. After Dukes called a recess to allow Blue Pelican Marina officials to broker acceptable language with county planners, Nicholson got even more upset.

"This is a major, major change,'' he said, noting that he had never seen the County Commission make a major change in a project just before approval. "That's wrong. That's wrong.''

Opponents of the rezoning were dealt an early blow in the proceeding when Joe Mason, the attorney for the marina, asked that the nearly 200 pages of emails and letters written by residents, mostly in opposition, be inadmissible in the proceeding. He argued that the comments were hearsay and that he could not question the individuals.

Dukes ruled to reject the written comments, but allowed three dozen coastal residents to speak, with the majority speaking against the rezoning and raising concerns about the impact the marina's expansion would have on the roads, infrastructure and quality of life in Hernando Beach. In addition, attorney Ralf Brookes and expert planner Max Forgey, representing some of the residents, argued that the marina had not met the requirement to prove the rezoning was appropriate for the property; they also maintained it was in conflict with the county's comprehensive plan.

That presentation grew testy when Brookes questioned Dukes about his relationship with the marina, where the commissioner bought a boat a year and a half ago and where the boat has been serviced. But other commissioners would not rule that Dukes had a conflict of interest and should recuse himself from the vote.

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

Comments
Plan to entice developers to help pay for Rays ballpark hits speed bump

Plan to entice developers to help pay for Rays ballpark hits speed bump

TAMPA — Private developers would bear much of the cost of a new Rays stadium in Ybor City under a plan Hillsborough County officials are putting together.Developers would benefit by cashing in on commercial, retail and other construction around a ne...
Updated: 7 minutes ago
Lightning feels Ryan McDonagh’s impact

Lightning feels Ryan McDonagh’s impact

BRANDON — Ryan McDonagh blocks shots. He competes for pucks in the corners and wins those battles. He moves the puck up ice well. He can join the rush. He can shoot from the blueline. He kills penalties."It was a great pickup by Steve (Yze...
Updated: 17 minutes ago
Hillsborough State Attorney vows to create conviction integrity unit this year

Hillsborough State Attorney vows to create conviction integrity unit this year

TAMPA — Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren said Friday he wants his office to have a conviction integrity unit in place before the end of the year.The unit would examine select prosecutions to determine whether innocent people might have been ...
Updated: 17 minutes ago
Why Game 5 is crucial to the Lightning

Why Game 5 is crucial to the Lightning

BRANDON — Three things that popped into my head as the Lightning and Devils get ready to play Game 5 Saturday afternoon at Amalie Arena.1. I'm going to do something that a hockey team in the playoffs would never do, not in a million years....
Updated: 29 minutes ago
Corps of Engineers not in a hurry to hand over wetlands permitting to Florida

Corps of Engineers not in a hurry to hand over wetlands permitting to Florida

Despite the dire warnings of environmental advocates, the Legislature last month passed a bill to allow the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to take over issue federal wetlands destruction permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, ...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Updated: 1 hour ago
NFL draft confessions: The Bucs set the trap, and I took the cheese on Johnny Manziel

NFL draft confessions: The Bucs set the trap, and I took the cheese on Johnny Manziel

TAMPA — The NFL draft is one big game of Liar's Poker. Deal me out.Even the guys with a seat at the table don't know when someone is bluffing.Bucs general manager Jason Licht knows that the team's No. 7 overall pick will be affected by how many...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Goodman: In America, truth is missing in action

Goodman: In America, truth is missing in action

It’s "Mueller Time," as the nation grows ever closer to a confrontation with the truth.Was collusion with the Russians an illusion? If not, who was involved, what was done, and when? Did it impact the 2016 campaign, the fate of Hillary Clinton and no...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Owners say new house is a disaster; developer accuses them of ‘online terrorism’

Owners say new house is a disaster; developer accuses them of ‘online terrorism’

ST. PETERSBURG --- Stretched across the front of Tim and Hyun Kims’ two-year-old house is a big banner with the name of a developer and the words: "I have to fix my new house."Some of what needs fixing is instantly apparent. The front steps are too ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Updated: 1 hour ago