BROOKSVILLE — After more than an hour of debate, including opposition by neighbors, the Hernando County Planning and Zoning Commission on Monday approved plans for a sewage treatment facility on Cortez Boulevard just east of Winter Street.
Applicant Anthony R. Crescenzo of Johns by John II is seeking a special overlay on his 2-acre parcel west of Brooksville to allow a lime stabilization facility.
The application calls for the installation of three 10,000-gallon, above-ground tanks in which waste from septic systems will be mixed with lime to kill bacteria. Solid materials would be separated and trucked to the landfill. The treated waste would be sprayed onto an already permitted 12-acre site off Sweet Gum Road west of Brooksville.
Neighbor Linda Schrader said the raw material that Crescenzo plans to treat would reek and she worried about groundwater contamination. Because of Crescenzo's history, which includes violations of county rules and a pending action against his state septic tank contractor's license, neighbors' concerns "appear to be valid,'' she said.
Ben Hayes, director of operations for the adjacent property owned by the St. Petersburg Times, said the smell would have a negative impact on employees and visitors to the Times' news and advertising office and its adjacent distribution center.
Assistant county attorney Jeff Kirk urged the commission to consider only the land-use issues related to the application, noting that complaints against Crescenzo should not be considered as part of their discussion.
Crescenzo said that while there would be some odor, it would not be a problem for neighbors.
County Health Department environmental supervisor Sam Velez inspects such facilities. "We just haven't had a problem'' with odor, he said.
The Health Department officials noted that all aspects of the operation are regulated and that water contamination is not likely.
Planning commissioners struggled with whether a sewage treatment facility is compatible with the neighborhood. They finally voted 4 to 1 to recommend approval to the County Commission, which has the final say.
Earlier this year, the planning commission approved Crescenzo's lime stabilization facility for the Sweet Gum property, but after neighbors' strong protests, the County Commission denied the application.
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1434.