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Evans Properties subsidiary applies to set up utility in Pasco County

DADE CITY — A large landowner in rural northeast Pasco County is hoping to start its own water and wastewater company that could serve an agribusiness as well as new residential and commercial development on the parcels it owns.

Evans Properties in June formed a subsidiary called Skyland Utilities, which last month filed a request with state regulators to create an exclusive franchise for the more than a dozen parcels it owns in Pasco and Hernando counties near Interstate 75 and County Road 41. The centralized utility system would cross the county line.

The land within the proposed boundaries is mostly undeveloped save for a home and shop, say documents filed with the Public Service Commission. But the firm says it wants to have the ability to serve, in its first phase starting next year, intensified "agri-business."

Utilities director Bruce Kennedy said his understanding is that Skyland wants its interconnected services to serve some sort of biofuels-related industry.

In its application, Skyland proposes that it would have the ability to serve 140 residential units by 2015 and 442 by 2024.

Skyland, which is registered to Ronald Edwards of Vero Beach, does not name any particular firm for the agribusiness venture. But it says that since its parent company owns all of the land within the service area it "will be in the best position to provide water and wastewater."

County commissioners, who learned of the new application Tuesday, said it raised red flags, particularly when Skyland talks about serving future residential development in that rural area. And Pasco joined a multicounty utility agency to buy up many of the small, privately owned utilities.

"I thought the board's goal was to get away from private utilities," said Commissioner Ann Hildebrand.

Commissioners decided to file an objection to the application, which will make them a player in the proceedings.

Jodie Tillman can be reached at jtillman@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6247.

Evans Properties subsidiary applies to set up utility in Pasco County 11/03/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 3, 2009 8:29pm]
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