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Hernando commission refuses to grant shortcut for mud-bogging project

BROOKSVILLE — Mike Barbee says he is fine with having to seek permits, fill out paperwork and pay fees to make his dream of a mud-bogging mecca north of Brooksville a reality.

He says he just doesn't have the six to nine months it would take to do all of that work.

So on Tuesday, Barbee showed up before the Hernando County Commission, seeking permission to start his monthly Mud on the Barbee events right away.

Commissioners and county staffers said they could not accommodate his request.

Commissioner Nick Nicholson said no one should be granted a shortcut.

"They need to meet the regulations everybody else does,'' he said.

In an advertisement in Sunday's Hernando Times, Barbee had urged local business people to rally with him at the commission meeting.

"Business owners, stand up and be counted,'' the large, bright headline announced. "If you feel this influx of people will have an impact on your business, please come and voice your support.''

Barbee said he had two supporters with him at Tuesday's commission meeting, but neither spoke.

Barbee first introduced the idea of a mud-bogging and country music venue — to be documented in a reality television show featuring his family — when he appeared before the commission last month.

Since then, he has met with county officials and was told that he could run two events while he was completing the paperwork for formal permission to operate the venue once a month. But two events aren't enough, he said. He said he needs a commitment for 12 so he can get international sponsorships and the commitment for the reality show.

Given the freedom to operate for 12 months, he said, he should also be able to earn back what it will cost to create the mud-bogging area and the other trails and music venue he plans for the 150-acre property at the southwest corner of Yontz Road and U.S. 98.

"I just don't need six months to jump through these hurdles,'' he told the Times before the meeting.

Businesses in Hernando County, who Barbee said will benefit from the millions of dollars injected annually into the local economy by his project, can't wait six months either.

"This is not helping me," he said of the delays. "It's just obstacles.''

Michael McHugh, the county's business development manager, told commissioners that he, along with zoning and development officials, had met with Barbee recently, walking him through the process he would have to follow, including the list of agencies that will have to review his plans.

There is little else the county can do for Barbee at this point, McHugh said.

Ron Pianta, the county's land services director, told the commission that neither the county staff nor the commission could grant Barbee permission for 12 events until he completes his paperwork and permitting.

"It's up to him to get us the information,'' Pianta said.

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

Hernando commission refuses to grant shortcut for mud-bogging project 02/12/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 12, 2013 8:07pm]
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