BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County officials enthusiastically sided with dogs over people on Monday.
In a unanimous vote, the Planning and Zoning Commission recommended that the County Commission allow Florida Classic Park to expand the number, length and type of events offered at the 50-acre park on Lockhart Road near Interstate 75 and State Road 50.
Known for the Florida Classic Clusters, the largest dog show in Florida, which draws hundreds of competitors and thousands of visitors from around the world, the operators of the park were before the planners because of a code enforcement complaint brought by neighbors.
Residents argued that the operators have violated rules set out in their 1988 approval by installing permanent lights and a sound system, and residents said the operators allowed hundreds of recreational vehicles to park there during the periodic dog events. The signature event takes place this year Thursday through Monday and Jan. 19-23.
Herbert and Deborah Wells complained that the activities on the property blasted sound into their neighborhood, lit up their home and yard, and caused congestion on their roads. They also noted that the dogs barked and left waste on the show site.
But planning commission members, who praised the economic impacts such dog shows have brought Hernando County, not only rejected the complaint, but also recommended that the county grandfather in the lighting and sound equipment and the 305 electrical hookups for recreational vehicles.
The members also agreed to recommend that the number of events on the site rise from seven to 15; that the duration increases from seven days each to 14; and that instead of limiting events to dog-related activities, other events should be allowed, such as car shows, church events and even the annual motor coach event that takes place at the Hernando County Airport.
The County Commission will make the final decision on the park's application.
In other action, after several residents complained, Don Preiser withdrew his application to set up a petting zoo on a 5-acre parcel south of Benes Roush Road and east of Moale Road.
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1434.