Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Little not to like about the move to pave more lime rock roads

A truck travels along Marvelwood Road in the Royal Highlands subdivision. Hernando has more than 400 miles of unpaved roads, nearly half of them in and around Royal Highlands.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times (2011)

A truck travels along Marvelwood Road in the Royal Highlands subdivision. Hernando has more than 400 miles of unpaved roads, nearly half of them in and around Royal Highlands.

It's impossible to keep a car clean. Pressure washing and replacing air conditioning filters are regular chores, like mowing the lawn. The school bus arrives trailing a Pig Pen-like dust cloud, one reason kids in the neighborhood always seem to be coughing.

I heard these common complaints about living on lime rock roads during a visit last week to the regional mecca of lime rock roads, Royal Highlands.

I also heard a couple of uncommon ones.

Rob Pritchard, 45, said he had to wait until his son was 9 years old and then bundled him up in padding — "full battle gear" — before teaching him how to ride a bike on the washboard surface of the road in front of his house.

Clive Blake, 75, said he and his wife moved to Royal Highlands from the east coast of Florida to be near family members whom they now see only in church.

"Family doesn't visit family because of this road," said Blake, 75, who lives near Pritchard on Labrador Duck Road.

Lime rock, in other words, is even more of a drag than I realized.

Which is why it's a big drag on property values.

That's definitely true for individual homes in the Royal Highlands subdivision.

It's probably also true for the county as a whole.

That Hernando has more than 400 miles of unpaved roads, that nearly half of them are in and around its second-largest subdivision, and that this subdivision contains by far the largest number of available lots, about 7,500, is a selling point right up there with the county's high incidence of sinkholes.

For years, it looked as if there was no way out, that Hernando was stuck with Royal Highlands' unpaved roads — a relic of the worst sort of 1970s-era planning.

And then, earlier this year, came a simple rule change. The county previously had required the approval of 60 percent of property owners before it would pave an unpaved road.

In March, it lowered that threshold to 51 percent, and the trickle of paving projects became a flood.

From the beginning of 2009 until the end of 2012, residents agreed to a total of less than 8 miles of paving. Since March, the county has received plans to pave more than 50 miles of roads, more than half of which have already been approved by a majority of residents and the County Commission.

This is real progress on a lingering problem. I can't see anything not to like.

Because the roads with the most occupied homes are the most likely to request paving, the county will spend its money where it does the most good.

Remember the old argument, that residents knew what they were getting into when they bought in Royal Highlands and should pay to get their own roads paved?

Well, they will. The paving program calls for residents to pick up two-thirds of the cost of the projects. For the projects submitted to the county since March, that share would come to $8 million, and in Royal Highlands the cost to each lot has come to about $3,300.

For the reasons I've explained and others — including the never-ending cost of regrading lime rock — it's in the public's interest that these roads are paved. So, it's also fair that the county pays one-third.

Not everybody agrees. At a commission meeting two weeks ago, owners of vacant property in Royal Highlands complained about paying more for road paving than their properties are worth.

So, why are these lots worth so little?

At least partly because they're on lime rock, of course. And I can't help but think that all Royal Highlands property owners who pay for paving will more than get their money back in the long run.

The people who don't agree — including Commissioner Jim Adkins, who last week made the misguided suggestion that the county return to the 60 percent approval rate — should keep a few things in mind.

Paving roads is good for public health, for quality of life, for property values.

It's good for just about everybody except maybe the people who sell air conditioning filters.

Little not to like about the move to pave more lime rock roads 11/21/13 [Last modified: Friday, November 22, 2013 2:52pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Review / photos: Sunset Music Festival brings Major Lazer, safety upgrades to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa


    Somewhere beyond the barricades and mountainous LED stages of the Sunset Music Festival, there had to be worry. There had to thousands of parents in parking lots and empty kitchens, anxiously distracting their minds, every now and then checking their phones.

    Major Lazer headlined the Sunset Music Festival on May 27, 2017 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.
  2. 24-year-old man charged with murder in shooting at Andrea Cove Motel

    LARGO — Pinellas sheriff's officers arrested a 24-year-old transient man Saturday in connection with a homicide at the Andrea Cove Motel in unincorporated Largo.

  3. Photo gallery: Calvary Christian rolls to state title


    View a gallery of images from Calvary Christian's defeat of Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium in Ft. Myers for the Class 4A title.

    Calvary Christian players circle up on the field before the FHSAA class 4A baseball championship against Pensacola Catholic on Friday May 27, 2017 at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla. Calvary scored 6 runs in the first inning, and had 7 hits.
  4. Two girls found safe after being reported missing in New Port Richey

    UPDATE: Both girls were found safe Saturday night, police said.

  5. IT failure blamed for British Airways cancellations (w/video)


    LONDON — British Airways canceled all flights from London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports on Saturday as a global IT failure upended the travel plans of tens of thousands of people on a busy U.K. holiday weekend.

    Passengers wait at a British Airways check-in desk after the airport suffered an IT systems failure Saturday at London''s Gatwick Airport. [Associated Press]