Wednesday, December 13, 2017
News Roundup

Motocross land issue in Hernando back in hands of Swiftmud

BROOKSVILLE — The ongoing controversy surrounding a motocross track carved into a 13.5-acre site on Spike Road near Hickory Hill has landed back in the hands of the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

That means property owner Steven Schryver will have to do what Swiftmud has been asking him to do for two years — prepare a detailed application for an environmental resource permit — or face a court challenge.

After neighbors complained about motocross activities on the property, the water management district determined Schryver had altered the natural drainage by building the track without the necessary permits and oversight.

Earlier this week, Swiftmud's governing board approved an administrative law judge's dismissal of a case that Schryver had pending before the Florida Department of Administrative Hearings. The hearing never happened because filings made by Schryver were lacking even after he had sought and won multiple extensions to file an acceptable petition, according to the judge's order.

In May, the judge stopped granting extensions. Schryver's efforts to file an acceptable petition continued until last month, when the judge closed the case, sending it back to Swiftmud for a resolution. Schryver has amassed more than $88,000 in Swiftmud fines.

Further fines, fees or penalties will be worked out "if and when we seek compliance through the court system,'' said Swiftmud spokeswoman Susanna Martinez Tarokh.

Schryver also faces issues with Hernando County. He has been assessed fines of $5,700 and is involved in litigation over code issues.

Late last year, Schryver took his case to the Hernando County Commission, but commissioners upheld their zoning supervisor's assertion that the motocross track was the primary use of the property and that he had cleared land without a permit.

Schryver told the Times on Friday that he still disputes that claim because he wouldn't have an agricultural tax exemption on his property, south of Spring Lake, if agriculture weren't its primary use.

He also said he will continue to work with Swiftmud to seek the proper permit and expressed frustration that the county's stop-work order on his site has prevented him from dealing with erosion problems that Swiftmud is asking to have fixed.

"It's a Catch-22,'' Schryver said.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1434.

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