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Hernando Beach Channel dredging permit expected soon

BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County commissioners on Tuesday signed an agreement for the county to accept $6-million from the state for the long-awaited Hernando Beach Channel dredging project.

That means that if the state Department of Environmental Protection tells Hernando officials that the two needed permits will be issued, the county can accept those millions. The overall project is expected to cost $9-million, with Hernando County paying the balance.

Commissioners got even better news from the assistant county engineer who has been heading up the project. Gregg Sutton told them that he expects notice by the end of this week that the first permit, the one needed to straighten and lengthen the channel, will be issued.

The other permit needed from the state, the one which will allow the county to dump the spoils of the dredge on the upland portions of a parcel owned by the Manuel family on Eagle Nest Drive, will come in another week or possibly longer, Sutton said.

If the DEP issues a notice to permit the project, citizens have 21 days to file formal opposition. Some residents near the dredge spoils site have said they will oppose the move, which agency officials say could tie up the long-overdue project for months or longer.

Residents objected to the filling of wetlands on the Manuel property, something the county says has been dropped from the plan. They also worry about the truck traffic and question why the county worked so hard to put the fill on the site owned by the prominent Manuel family, which plans to develop the land.

Sutton said a permit is also in process with the Army Corps of Engineers and he was optimistic it will be approved soon as well, paving the way for bidding the project and beginning dredging by late summer.

"This summer?'' asked a skeptical commissioner Diane Rowden.

"This summer,'' Sutton said.

Also Tuesday:

•Commissioners agreed to allow Spring Hill Fire Rescue to keep a modular building at Station 3 at Spring Hill Drive and Whitewood Avenue. The building was to have been removed when the renovation of Station 3 was done.

The plan was to use the building at the site of the next station improvement project, interim Chief Mike Rampino told commissioners. But with all the budget constraints, Rampino said fire officials have not decided whether to move forward with other improvements or to use the building for office space or even a temporary fire station elsewhere on Spring Hill Drive as suggested in the recent fire study.

•Commissioners turned down a request to rehear a case in which the Hernando County Radio Control Club was allowed to continue its use of a 40-acre site on Benes Roush Road to fly their model airplanes. Commissioner Chris Kingsley asked if anyone wanted to hear the case and all the board members shook their heads. "Let it be, as the Beatles said,'' said commissioner Jeff Stabins.

•Clerk of the Circuit Court Karen Nicolai presented commissioners with the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report including the annual audit, which was clean and contained no significant deficiencies or material weaknesses.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at behrendt@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1434.

Hernando Beach Channel dredging permit expected soon 04/01/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 2, 2008 1:33pm]
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