NEW PORT RICHEY — Commissioners approved a local matching grant Tuesday for a new low-income senior housing complex in Magnolia Valley after they were assured the project would not increase flooding problems in the area.
The 74-unit project would sit on what is currently the driving range of the Magnolia Valley Golf Club on Massachusetts Avenue. Because the golf course is in a low-lying area, it typically floods during heavy rain.
That area "sits down in the bottom of a teacup," said commissioner Ann Hildebrand.
Commissioners in August declined to give the project $75,000 from the county's allocation of federal housing funds because of flooding concerns at the site. Now, even with that funding, the developer, an affiliate of Minnesota-based Sand Companies Inc., still must apply for a competitive state tax credit program to pay for the bulk of the project.
Those tax credits would cover $9.7 million of the total $11.7 million cost. The balance would come from private lenders and the developer.
"I still have some severe flooding concerns," said commissioner Henry Wilson, whose district includes the site. He also said he was unhappy that the project was reconsidered without notifying nearby residents.
County engineer James Widman said he was satisfied the complex would not increase flooding problems. He said a survey showed the driving range area is "quite high" compared with the rest of the golf course.
Developers also agreed to reduce the size of the parking lot and build a large retaining pond to comply with strict "basin of special concern" guidelines.
Widman said that means runoff "would not be increased" during a major storm. Runoff could actually decrease, he said, during a typical rainfall.
"It seems like they have gone above and beyond what your normal building code would require," said County Attorney Jeff Steinsndyer.
Commissioners approved the funding on a 4-1 vote, with Wilson voting no.
In other news Tuesday, commissioners:
• Approved storing 980 event barricades in New Port Richey instead of the Land O'Lakes jail. The barricades are used for parades and other large events such as Chasco Fiesta. The city of New Port Richey requested the move to cut event costs by using volunteers to load and unload the barricades and reducing travel expenses.
• Honored assistant zoning administrator Lee Millard, who recently retired, for his 34 years of service. Known as the "guru" for zoning variances, Millard should "keep your cell phone handy" in case officials need to tap his institutional knowledge, commissioner Ann Hildebrand said. "I just tried to keep learning new things all the time," Millard said. "Now that I know all that stuff, I'm retired and I don't have to use it anymore."
• Honored Sue Drumm, the recently retired secretary who prepared commission agendas. An employee since 2000, Drumm prepared 230 agendas and also handled hundreds of last-minute or "walk-on" items. "I never knew I'd be the reason for an emergency walk-on like this," she said.