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Hernando County reaches settlement with Ridge Manor property owners

BROOKSVILLE — East Hernando residents Gerald and Ann Semeniuk have settled their federal lawsuit against Hernando County.

The couple sued last fall, claiming that the Right to Farm Act and a new law promoting agri-tourism prevented the county from regulating the use of their 82-acre property

The property, which is south of Cortez Boulevard and west of McKethan Road, ran afoul of the county first because of a nonpermitted hog-hunting camp run on the site by a property manager. Neighbors were critical of the operation.

As the site received more scrutiny, the county's building department and the property appraiser raised questions about unpermitted buildings and the validity of the agricultural exemption the couple claimed while running the hog-hunting operation.

The settlement approved late last month by the County Commission focuses on the building permit issues.

Under the terms of the agreement, the Semeniuks agreed to apply for building permits for structures that were built without them, including a residence inside a barn. They will also pay all customary after-the-fact fees and penalties.

Hernando County agreed that new county building official James Friedrichs will supervise the process in a "minimally invasive manner." And the Semeniuks must accommodate "all reasonable requests for inspections by Hernando County.''

The county agreed to refund $1,369, the amount paid to file for the special exception use permit to allow the hunting camp. That permit was denied by the county. The county also agreed to waive fines related to past code enforcement and special master actions.

The settlement does not address issues related to any current hog-hunting activities, which are still advertised online.

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

Hernando County reaches settlement with Ridge Manor property owners 03/10/14 [Last modified: Monday, March 10, 2014 9:41pm]
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