Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hernando Beach residents pepper marina owner with questions about development plans

HERNANDO BEACH — The public meeting Thursday night to discuss controversial plans for the Nature Coast Educational Plaza and Nature Coast Lodge started on a high point.

Blue Pelican Marina owner Gordon Wolf addressed more than 250 Hernando Beach residents jammed into the Coast Guard Auxiliary building and overflowing into the parking lot.

The meeting had been requested by the Hernando County Planning and Zoning Commission when it recommended approval of the rezoning needed to make Wolf's vision a reality. The County Commission will have the final say on May 13.

"This is fantastic,'' Wolf said with a big smile as he admired the large turnout.

He said he was pleased to have the opportunity to educate so many people about his plans to expand the marina, help the county solve congestion and parking problems at the public boat ramp, build the lodge and help the county build an environmental education center.

Just minutes into the presentation, however, former Planning and Zoning Commission member Larry Scott questioned why the county was not requiring of Wolf the same promises of providing infrastructure that would have been demanded in the past.

Soon, the meeting deteriorated into personal attacks, shouting among residents, a physical tug of war among several people over the microphone and a flurry of residents who pleaded for civility.

At one point, when Wolf said future studies would show the project's impact on the community, one woman posed a question: "Are you going into this not knowing what impact you're going to have on this community? Are you kidding?"

When Wolf's brother, Ron, described in detail the education center's museum, visitors center and theater — all designed to promote the environment — one woman called out: "Put all the lipstick you want on it. It's still a pig.''

"Oink, oink,'' another member of the audience responded.

While some people voiced support for the project, most asked questions and spoke against it, at least in its current form. They took issue with the funding, the impact on the environment and the added traffic on roads. They also wondered why the plans' details only surfaced recently.

The Wolf brothers said they wanted to promote the Nature Coast and provide a draw for tourism. They could have sought a commercial designation for the half-dozen upland acres on their 31-acre parcel, they noted, but chose the more restrictive resort residential zoning.

That fits better with the marina, they said. They also told residents that if the county doesn't get a $3 million allocation from the Florida Legislature, the education center will not be built. Settlement money from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill might also cover some of the costs, county officials have said.

Hernando Beach resident Forrest Bennett maintained that a more appropriate place for the educational plaza would be on the site of the Osowaw Boulevard wastewater treatment plant, which will soon be decommissioned.

But the Wolfs have contended there is more educational value to having the center beside the marina because people could see and interact with the coastal environment.

Hernando Beach residents pepper marina owner with questions about development plans 04/25/14 [Last modified: Friday, April 25, 2014 9:34pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Deputies responding to car crash in Riverview find shooting victim inside

    Crime

    RIVERVIEW — The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is investigating after deputies responding to a single-car crash late Wednesday discovered someone in the car had been shot, authorities said.

  2. Commentary: Ten years later, the iPhone owns us

    Science

    Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPhone in January, 2007, before an adoring congregation, in his signature "Sermon on the Mount" style. On June 29, it became available to the public. Ten years later, the phone has spread like Christianity. The device represents "the pinnacle product of all capitalism," as Brian Merchant …

    Apple is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the iPhone's release on June 29, 2007. [Associated Press]
  3. Florida education news: School grades, teacher pay, transgender lawsuit and more

    Blogs

    SCHOOL GRADES: Florida's school grades showed improvement as the state's revised accountability system entered its third year in its current form. …

    Bear Creek Elementary principal Willette Houston celebrates her school's A grade with students in a summer program at the school.
  4. Whiskey wasn't my thing, but then I visited the Teeling Distillery in Ireland

    Travel

    DUBLIN

    If you drink your way through a four-day trip to Ireland, can you make an honest recommendation on anything?

    The focal point of the Teeling Whiskey Distillery in Dublin is the copper pots used in the process.
  5. Faulty AC leaves Chinsegut manor house, supporters steaming

    Human Interest

    BROOKSVILLE

    As summer temperatures climb, volunteers at Chinsegut Hill Manor House say a faulty air-conditioning system has put them in a hot spot.

    Thomas Hoops of Tampa, left, takes a breather with his 1-year-old daughter, Zoe Hoops, on the porch of the Chinsegut Hill Manor House.