Monday, May 21, 2018
News Roundup

Hernando officials shut down construction of mud bogging, entertainment facility

BROOKSVILLE — For more than a year, Hernando County mud bogging, country music, monster truck and reality television enthusiasts have been waiting for Peter Michael "Mike" Barbee to stage his first Mud on the Barbee event.

In recent days, Barbee began constructing the mud pits and stage on a 150-acre site on U.S. 98 just north of Brooksville, displaying pictures of the progress on a Facebook page.

"The party starts July 4," the page announces.

But on Tuesday, a day after a county staffer noticed the earthwork, the county issued Barbee a stop-work order.

County officials say Barbee never filled out an application for a conditional use permit, despite being told the permit would be required to host such an event. Other questions have been raised about the structure that Barbee calls a stage on Facebook.

Barbee told the Tampa Bay Times that the structure he identifies as a stage will eventually be a pole barn and will store hay. County officials said Barbee had been granted an exemption from county permitting for that because it was deemed to be a nonresidential agricultural structure.

The use of the structure is now under investigation, however, according to Chris Linsbeck, the county's zoning supervisor.

On April 7, the Southwest Florida Water Management District sent a letter to the property owner, Thomas Malouf, informing him that a permit wasn't necessary for the mug bog excavation. But the stop-work order halts all construction at the site, including the excavation, Linsbeck said.

That's because, based on the information given to Swiftmud, Barbee plans a mug bogging event on a 4-acre pond with three obstacle courses. That requires a conditional use permit from the county.

Barbee, president of Mud on the Barbee, said the stop-work order came as an unexpected blow.

"They came out here and put a red tag on the fence and stop everything you are doing," he said. "It's a little depressing today, sir."

For months, he said he and his partner have been working to get the property ready, investing a lot of time and money.

"This isn't some dirty little place," Barbee said. "This is a multimillion-dollar project."

He feels like the county pulled the rug out from underneath him.

At a County Commission meeting in February 2013, Barbee said commissioners granted him permission to host two events.

"We'd like to get some help instead of just roadblocks," he said.

From the start, Barbee had asked for the county to give him a break from some rules and regulations. But commissioners said there would be no shortcut. Barbee would have to go through the county's process and that meant making application.

"We were amenable to issue a permit for them, but that requires them to make an application, which they didn't do," Linsbeck said.

When such permits are issued, either by county staffers or by the Planning and Zoning Commission, they come with conditions to protect the public, including reviews by the sheriff, fire and health departments; requirements for parking; restrooms; traffic control; and a site plan, Linsbeck explained.

He said he will meet with county officials today to decide the county's course of action.

When Barbee spoke to commissioners of his plans in 2013, he talked about drawing 25,000 visitors to each month's mud bogging and music events. He predicted millions of dollars in revenue to local businesses.

He also promised to film the process of creating the mud bog venue, creating a reality show that would feature his own "Barbee dolls'' — his four daughters.

Comments
Lightning-Capitals: Washington forces Game 7 with 3-0 victory

Lightning-Capitals: Washington forces Game 7 with 3-0 victory

WASHINGTON — The Lightning let one get away Monday night. And it might cost Tampa Bay a chance at the Stanley Cup.So now there will be a Game 7 to decide the Eastern Conference. Maybe this is how it should be. Maybe this is how it's supposed to...
Updated: 2 hours ago
The weather didn’t get Lightning fans down. Losing Game 6 did.

The weather didn’t get Lightning fans down. Losing Game 6 did.

TAMPA — If the Tampa Bay Lightning can overcome a 2-game deficit to the Washington Capitals and take a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference final, then Deborah Schmeltzer can definitely drive across the Howard Frankland Bridge through a driving rainsto...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Lightning journal: Capitals had a shot at Jon Cooper

Lightning journal: Capitals had a shot at Jon Cooper

WASHINGTON — Interesting how things work out in the world of hockey.Back in 2012, the first NHL team to ever interview Jon Cooper for a head coaching job was actually the Washington Capitals. The Caps general manager at the time was George McPh...
Updated: 2 hours ago
History has been kind to Lightning in Game 7s

History has been kind to Lightning in Game 7s

WASHINGTON — There's nothing more delicious in sports than Game 7.Unless your team is playing in it. Then there's nothing more nerve-racking.Most sports fans watch a big game with a nice cold drink. But if your team is playing in a Game 7, the ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Prepare yourselves: Golden Knights will be talk of the Stanley Cup final

Prepare yourselves: Golden Knights will be talk of the Stanley Cup final

WASHINGTON — It's incredible. Unbelievable, really. Maybe the best sports story in this country and the sport of hockey since 1980's Miracle on Ice.And, as a side note, if the Lightning reaches the Stanley Cup final, everyone in the country out...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Lightning-Capitals: Grading Tampa Bay’s Game 6 shutout loss

Lightning-Capitals: Grading Tampa Bay’s Game 6 shutout loss

Let's do it one more time, shall we?Game 7 it will be.If it matches Game 6, it will be extraordinary.RELATED: More Lightning coverageThe Lightning could not close the door on the Washington Capitals. The Caps, who apparently really don't want to lose...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Lightning-Capitals: Tom Jones’ takeaways from Washington’s Game 6 win

Lightning-Capitals: Tom Jones’ takeaways from Washington’s Game 6 win

Caps D Dmitry Orlov has one of the most wicked slap shots in hockey. When he stepped into one in the first period, Lightning D Ryan McDonagh threw his body in front of it and blocked it with his shoulder — just inches from his face. McDonagh sh...
Updated: 3 hours ago
FPL parent wants to expand its Florida footprint with new purchase

FPL parent wants to expand its Florida footprint with new purchase

TALLAHASSEE — The parent company of Florida utility giant Florida Power & Light announced Monday that it will buy the largest electricity producer in Northwest Florida, Gulf Power, in a $6.4 billion deal.Juno Beach-based NextEra Energy Inc. said in a...
Updated: 4 hours ago
One of Ybor City’s most historic blocks about to see construction of four-story boutique hotel

One of Ybor City’s most historic blocks about to see construction of four-story boutique hotel

TAMPA — Developers are poised to launch construction this week on one of Ybor City’s biggest new projects in years — a four-story, $50 million boutique hotel being created by a Chicago company that seeks out neighborhoods rich in color and character....
Updated: 5 hours ago
State softball: Admiral Farragut happy to be in title game this time around

State softball: Admiral Farragut happy to be in title game this time around

VERO BEACH — All season, Admiral Farragut has focused on two things:Believe in each other.Commit to the process.Well, it all paid off in a big way Monday in the Class 3A state semifinals at Historic Dodgertown in Vero Beach.Alyssa Rano hit a two-run ...
Updated: 6 hours ago