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Man who built motocross track fails to convince Hernando County to drop fines

Steven Schryver’s property, shown earlier this year in a photo provided by the Southwest Florida Water Management District, is in violation of Hernando County zoning and land use rules, as well as several Swiftmud regulations, officials say.

Swiftmud

Steven Schryver’s property, shown earlier this year in a photo provided by the Southwest Florida Water Management District, is in violation of Hernando County zoning and land use rules, as well as several Swiftmud regulations, officials say.

BROOKSVILLE — Steven Schryver made a pitch to county commissioners Tuesday, attempting to convince them that his unpermitted motocross track didn't violate county zoning and land use rules.

He failed.

Commissioners voted unanimously to uphold the findings of their zoning supervisor, Chris Linsbeck, who had determined that the motocross track was the principal use of Schryver's property and that he had cleared land without a permit.

County fines for the violations total $5,700.

Schryver is also facing more than $88,000 in fines from the Southwest Florida Water Management District, commonly known as Swiftmud, for a variety of related violations.

Schryver has said that before he bought his 13.5 acres off Spike Road near Hickory Hill in 2003, he met with a former county zoning administrator.

Schryver said he was told that there would be no problem building a track on the property for personal use and for the use of his friends, as long as he didn't change the historic drainage on the site.

He started to build the track in 2006, hauling in truckloads of fill, building up the track and, according to various agency reports and the neighbors, changing some of the drainage.

As soon as the whirring of the dirt bikes began on the site, which Schryver calls "Area 51," neighbors began to complain.

The work also riled Swiftmud officials. Schryver has faced several enforcement actions for violations from that agency. Swiftmud Executive Director Robert Beltran signed an Administrative Complaint and Order against him in September and has been trying to serve him with the order ever since.

The county also responded to neighbors' concerns, and inspectors found various violations of county codes. In January, a special master heard Schryver's case and found him guilty of clearing land without a permit, violating land use regulations and violating a stop-work order.

On Tuesday, Schryver and his attorney, Noel Flasterstein, argued that, despite Linsbeck's argument that the motocross track was the primary use of the land, state law identifies agriculture as the primary use.

But County Attorney Garth Coller pointed out that, while the property might qualify for an agriculture exemption, that is not the same as a zoning designation of principal use.

Schryver and Flasterstein also argued that there could be a legal question about equal representation because the county issued violations against Schryver when other property owners with motocross tracks have not received violations.

They also argued that when the track didn't violate the noise ordinance, the various agencies including county code enforcement and Swiftmud, simply worked to find other violations to level against Schryver.

County Commissioner Jim Adkins asked who was going to fix the run-off issues mentioned by a neighbor of Schryver's. Schryver blamed a county stop-work order that left him unable to alleviate the issue.

Commissioner Nick Nicholson didn't buy any of the arguments.

"You cannot alter your property without a permit from Swiftmud. You cannot do it,'' he said. "It's not legal.''

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at behrendt@tampabay.com or (352) 848-1434.

Man who built motocross track fails to convince Hernando County to drop fines 12/10/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 10, 2013 4:56pm]
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