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Pasco commissioners put off vote on proposal to fine owners of parked cars blocking sidewalks

DADE CITY — Pasco commissioners held off voting on a proposal Tuesday that would fine people for blocking parts of the sidewalks with their parked cars.

The proposal had come as a response to complaints, many of them from disabled residents, who had spoken about the difficulties in trying to maneuver around cars parked at the ends of driveways and hanging out into the sidewalk.

But commissioners said Tuesday the addition to county parking regulations had a number of problems. For one, Pasco Sheriff Bob White had told them that his agency lacked the manpower to enforce the new provision.

And they also said it would punish people who live in older west Pasco subdivisions where short driveways are a consequence of building on very small lots. Those subdivisions were originally built for retirees, but with families living in many of them now, some of the short driveways aren't long enough for two cars.

"You're going to have people who just can't comply," said Chairman Jack Mariano.

Commissioners decided to put off public hearings on the proposal until January. In the meantime, county staff members are supposed to put together a list of neighborhoods where the problems seem to be greatest, namely those older ones where the distance between the house and the street is 20 feet or less.

The proposal, which would fine people $15 on the first offense and $30 on subsequent offenses, would not apply on private streets, including gated subdivisions.

County regulations already prohibit parking on sidewalks, but do not address people who are parked on their own property but still manage to block the sidewalks.

Commissioner Ann Hildebrand said she had misgivings about the government saying "where you can park your car" on private property.

Commissioners say they hope to get more input from neighborhood associations before taking a vote on the matter.

Commissioner Michael Cox said he didn't know whether he would support the proposal.

"I know we can come up with some happy medium," Cox said.

In other news:

• Commissioners agreed to extend County Administrator John Gallagher's contract by two years, with the option for a two-year renewal. The terms of the contract remain the same. Gallagher earns $180,700 a year.

• Commissioners approved a rezoning request for a proposed employment center off U.S. 301 in Dade City that developers say would create more than 3,000 jobs once it's built out. Jordan Business Park, which would be on about 300 acres, would have 1.24 million square feet of space dedicated to a "targeted business" plus 96,000 square feet of commercial and professional space and 540 residential units. The Jordan family, which has owned the property since the late 19th century, is lining up the entitlements so it can sell the project as a package to a developer, said attorney Clarke Hobby.

• Commissioners signed off on a "take-over" agreement with Travelers Casualty & Insurance, the bonding company on the U.S. 41 utility project that is a crucial element to the stimulus-funded road widening. The utility project ground to a halt after commissioners fired Kearney Construction, which officials said had performance and deadline issues. Kearney later sued Pasco County over its dismissal. The agreement executed Tuesday requires Travelers to find a new contractor to finish the work, which utilities director Bruce Kennedy said isn't halfway finished. Meanwhile, state transportation officials are bearing down on the county to hurry or risk financial penalties if they impede the roadwork.

Jodie Tillman can be reached at jtillman@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6247.

Pasco commissioners put off vote on proposal to fine owners of parked cars blocking sidewalks 10/06/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 6, 2009 7:48pm]
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