BROOKSVILLE — In a unanimous vote Tuesday, the County Commission buried plans to use a rural Hernando County road to provide access to a sand mine and a future community in Pasco County.
The applicant, Massey Partners Ltd., urged the commission to allow it to continue to talk to county officials about its proposal to improve and use Arlanie Road to haul 10 million cubic yards of sand and dirt.
"We think the proposal is a fair one,'' said local attorney Darryl Johnston, representing the company. He pitched the project as a dual benefit for Hernando County because it would provide both the road improvements at no direct cost to residents and dirt and sand for future projects in the area.
But those benefits were not convincing to neighbors concerned about potentially hundreds of truck trips through their neighborhood each day.
And they didn't sway county staff members concerned that Hernando would get all of the negative transportation effects while having no planning control or ability to collect impact fees or property taxes from the actual borrow pit or future residential community.
Residents in the Masaryktown neighborhood spoke of a quiet piece of country road that would be ruined by traffic from as many as one truck every three minutes.
They spoke about threats to the safety of their children both from the trucks and from strangers driving the trucks who would be on their roads every day. They bemoaned being forced to live in fenced compounds or walled lots just to mitigate the effect of the truck traffic.
They begged commissioners to reject the firm's offer to build up the lime rock on Arlanie Road or paving it so trucks could haul 10 million cubic yards of sand and dirt from Massey Partner's 1,400-acre site just south of the Hernando/Pasco line.
Glen and Barbara Shelt told commissioners how they sought out a place with peace and quiet, eventually ending up with 15 acres on Arlanie Road. Barbara Shelt said the project owner "wants to destroy our neighborhood.''
She described a street where residents walk, jog, ride bikes, ride their horses and walk their dogs, and where children walk along roads without sidewalks to catch their school bus in the early mornings and walk home from the bus in the afternoons.
"We were looking for the home of our dreams,'' Glen Shelt said, adding that they would never have bought if they thought they would land on a truck route.
Alicia Mott said neighbors don't care about having a paved road.
"We and our neighbors would rather live with the mud in the wet season and the dust in the dry season,'' she said.
County planning director Ron Pianta showed commissioners maps demonstrating that the areas surrounding the sand pit are zoned for agriculture and conservation in both counties' land use plans. In Pasco, the Massey parcel could hold more than 600 homes after the mining operation is finished, which Pianta considered too intense for that area and for Arlanie Road.
Commissioner Jim Adkins said he liked the idea of development and new jobs, but added, "I don't like a Pasco development vested for the use of our Hernando roads and we get nothing in return.''
Speaking for the firm's owner, Johnston urged the board to work with him to see if some of the issues could be resolved.
Commission Chairman Dave Russell said he thought the county's staff had spent enough time discussing the issue and he had heard loud and clear what area residents and staff were saying.
"There's no benefit there'' for Hernando County, Russell said. "I can't support this project now and don't see how much could be done to win my support in the future.''
The unanimous vote to halt any further talks about improving the road for the sand mine drew enthusiastic applause from the residents in the audience.
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1434.