HERNANDO BEACH — As the Hernando Beach community continues to buzz about the planned expansion at Blue Pelican Marina, the head of the Hernando Beach Property Owners Association has asked the Hernando County Commission to delay the rezoning request for the project.
"It appears that aspects of the future development and use of this property are intertwined with potential development projects that would be implemented by Hernando County,'' wrote property owners president Judith Simpson to county commissioners. "The community has not received sufficient information or opportunity to provide input to county plans for nature-related tourism or education facilities, for which the county is seeking funding.''
At the direction of the association's board, Simpson also has asked County Administrator Len Sossamon to hold a public meeting to inform residents about the county's plans for boat ramp improvements, nature-based tourism and educational facilities.
Residents continue to send a flood of emails in opposition to the rezoning of 31-acre parcel owned by Gordon Wolf, the owner of Blue Pelican Marina. Wolf has requested several changes in zoning, but the most controversial would allow construction of the Nature Coast Educational Plaza, which would be a county project, and the Nature Coast Lodge, a private venture that would include 42 cabins.
State lawmakers have set aside $4 million for the environmental education center. It is not yet known whether Gov. Rick Scott will allow the expenditure.
Sossamon has touted a plan to make Hernando Beach the epicenter of the Nature Coast.
Ever since the marina's plans came to light a month ago, however, residents have worried about changing the character of the residential neighborhood; putting too much stress on existing infrastructure, including narrow Shoal Line Boulevard, and destroying nature.
A recent community meeting on the rezoning plan filled the Coast Guard Auxiliary building with a standing-room-only crowd. While some residents have voiced support for the plan, most of the sentiment has been against it.
"I have read and listened to both the pro and con arguments and can find no benefit to the Hernando Beach community other than lining the pockets of a handful of people,'' Rudy Palombit wrote to county officials. "I believe the approval will signal the end to the quality of life we enjoy.''
Armand Galeto wrote that he opposed the project for numerous reasons, including the ways it would change the community.
"This was meant to be God's waiting place, not Disney World,'' he wrote.
Sossamon has not yet responded to the request for a public meeting. A decision to delay the zoning hearing, which is scheduled for May 13, rests with the County Commission, said Ron Pianta, assistant administrator for planning and development. The county's Planning and Zoning Commission earlier recommended approval.