Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hernando commissioners reject Operation PAR drug clinic in Spring Hill

BROOKSVILLE — After two hours of spirited discussion, the Hernando County Commission on Tuesday unanimously turned down a planned methadone clinic on Kass Circle, north of Spring Hill Drive.

Property owners, renters and representatives of nearby businesses filled the commission chambers to register their disapproval of the project. They described a residential and commercial neighborhood where pedestrians regularly circulate between nearby apartments and businesses ranging from an ice cream parlor and a pizza restaurant to a beauty salon and a grocery store.

They expressed concern that their neighborhood would be negatively affected by Pinellas County-based Operation PAR's plan to open a methadone clinic in a 5,300-square-foot, standalone building that previously housed a day care center. Many said they had safety concerns about recovering drug addicts coming to the clinic; others worried that their commercial plazas would lose tenants.

"This clinic is not compatible with our neighborhood and our shopping center,'' said nearby resident Bill Luecke, who predicted that if Operation PAR moved in, the center would become a "ghost town shopping center.''

The clinic is needed, but near a hospital and not "in the middle of a neighborhood,'' said Jeff Phillips, owner of a nearby Hungry Howie's pizza restaurant.

"Simply do the right thing,'' he told commissioners.

Others spoke of the potential for clients of a methadone clinic to relapse and the fear that local business employees and customers would feel knowing that addicts were in the area.

Officials from Operation PAR argued that their services are badly needed in the county and that the zoning was already appropriate for medical clinics.

Thirty-five-year Operation PAR employee Gary Wenner said he was sickened by all the misinformation that was being reported about the organization's plans.

"We were asked by the state of Florida to provide this service in Hernando County,'' he said, noting that about 70 of PAR's clients in Pasco County are from Hernando.

"We do not create problems in neighborhoods,'' he said.

Land-use attorney Barbara Wilhite urged commissioners to listen to the testimony of the residents and business owners.

"They're telling you about the nature of the surrounding use,'' she said, and she said that can be considered in making a decision.

Commissioners also could not approve the plan if the special use "adversely affects the public interest,'' said Wilhite, who was representing nearby apartment owner Gene Michael.

After listening to several dozen speakers, commissioners determined that the clinic would not be compatible with the surrounding area and overturned the July approval by the county's Planning and Zoning Commission.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at or (352) 848-1434.

Hernando commissioners reject Operation PAR drug clinic in Spring Hill 08/23/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 23, 2011 7:42pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Come on down, former 'Price Is Right' announcer Rich Fields; you're the new afternoon DJ on Q105


    There's a new afternoon drive host on classic hits radio station WRBQ-FM, better known as "Q105."

  2. From the food editor: Five things I'm enjoying in the food world right now


    Sometimes your notebook is scribbled with little thoughts here and there, things you come across in the food world and want to share but aren't sure how or when. Well, folks, I need to get some of this off my chest. Here is a somewhat random collection of culinary things I am really enjoying right now:

    Espresso Sea Salt Cookie Sandwiches with a cooked buttercream frosting, from St. Petersburg home bakery Wandering Whisk Bakeshop. Photo by Jennifer Jacobs.
  3. In Syria's Raqqa, IS makes last stand at city's stadium


    BEIRUT — U.S.-backed, Kurdish-led forces battling the Islamic State group in Syria captured the city hospital in Raqqa on Tuesday, leaving IS militants holed up at the local stadium, their last stand in the fight over what was once the extremists' de facto capital.

    This frame grab from video released Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017 and provided by Furat FM, a Syrian Kurdish activist-run media group, shows Syrian Islamic State group fighters who surrendered entering a base of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), in Raqqa, Syria. A spokesman for the SDF in Syria says it will be in control of the northern city of Raqqa "within a few days" after attacking the last pocket held by the Islamic State group. SDF fighters launched an operation to retake the last IS-held pocket of Raqqa after some 275 militants and their family members surrendered. [Furat FM via AP]
  4. Florida education news: Constitution changes, #HB7069, school security and more


    NEW RULES: Once every 20 years, Florida convenes a commission to examine whether the state constitution needs amending. Education — Article IX — can play a pivotal role, and this time around the subject appears to be coming into focus for possible change. Members of the public already have

  5. Forecast: Sporadic showers across Tampa Bay as heat is kept in check


    Sporadic showers and storms swept through Tampa Bay early Tuesday morning, dropping over an inch of rain in some areas.

    Tampa Bay's 7 day forecast. [WTSP]