KEYSTONE — To justify changing the rules for Stephen Dibbs' borrow pit on Lutz-Lake Fern Road, Dibbs' latest request to the county says the pit is the closest feasible site to three big public work projects that will need a lot of dirt.
Not so fast, says Ken McAlpin, who owns a borrow pit in North Pinellas.
McAlpin's 72 acres are on Tarpon Avenue, a major east-west road, also known as Keystone Road, that Pinellas County plans to widen.
That means at least a piece of the project will be at the end of McAlpin's driveway. And his land also lies between Dibbs' property and a commercial construction and road project near Tarpon Springs.
And Dibbs knows that the Pinellas property is closer to those two projects, McAlpin said, "because he visited this place several times."
"We've got good clean fill, and we have enough for each one of those projects, and we're bidding them," McAlpin said. "I don't see how he could get them because of the distance he has to drive."
Asked about McAlpin's comments, Dibbs didn't address who's closer to what, but said McAlpin "has a different type of dirt than I have." And he said it would still save money to let dump trucks leaving his property take a more direct route by going west on Lutz-Lake Fern Road.
Requiring them to avoid that stretch of road would require a longer, more roundabout route that would burn more fuel and create more exhaust.
"Where is that good for the environment?" he said.
This is not the first time Dibbs has made this argument. In February 2008, Dibbs received county permission to excavate up to 2.5 million cubic yards of dirt from his 320 acres. One of 38 conditions of that approval requires trucks from Dibbs' site to use the Suncoast Parkway to haul dirt to construction projects in other parts of Hillsborough County and beyond. It bans trucks leaving his property from going west on Lutz-Lake Fern Road.
Last year, a county hearing officer denied Dibbs' request to change the rules and allow trucks to go west because Lutz-Lake Fern Road was not built to handle heavy trucks, and the truck traffic would disrupt life in rural Keystone.
Now Dibbs is back with a similar request to amend the conditions on his site. This time, not only does he repeat the argument that going west on Lutz-Lake Fern Road would be cheaper, but his planning consultant says a new engineering report shows that Lutz-Lake Fern Road is sturdy enough to handle the trucks from Dibbs' borrow pit.
"Basically you can put Sherman tanks across that road, and it's not going to hurt it," planning consultant Steven Allison said.