Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Spring Hill drug rehab center will have to go through county to expand, judge rules

BROOKSVILLE — A federal judge has denied a request by the operator of a Spring Hill drug rehabilitation center to force Hernando County to give the center a permit to expand.

With the denial, U.S. District Judge James D. Whittemore closed the case filed against the county in 2011 by Toucan Partners LLC, the owner of the property, and Narconon Spring Hill Inc., the operator of the program.

Suncoast Rehabilitation Center on Cessna Drive in Spring Hill announced a month ago plans to expand from 27 to 60 beds. According to a news release, a larger facility would help meet the increased demand for services under the federal Affordable Care Act.

With the judge's ruling, the owner of the center will have to go back through the county Planning and Zoning Commission to argue for the expansion. No application for a special use permit has been received by the county, said Ron Pianta, assistant administrator for planning and development.

Toucan Partners sought to expand from 22 to 54 beds in 2009. But residents surrounding the 3-acre parcel were adamant that a drug rehab center was not compatible with their neighborhood.

The Planning and Zoning Commission approved the permit, but it was overturned several weeks later by the County Commission. Undaunted, the center sued the county first in circuit court, then in federal court.

Earlier this year, a jury found Hernando County guilty of intentional discrimination against Narconon under the federal Fair Housing Act.

Other counts of the federal suit were settled in the county's favor, and, while Toucan Partners and Narconon sought $6.24 million in damages, the jury awarded just $74,000 and attorney's fees to Narconon. The jury awarded nothing to Toucan Partners.

The amount of attorney's fees has not yet been determined.

After the verdict, Narconon filed a motion for an injunction to force the county to approve the permit allowing the expansion.

But the judge decided that "Narconon has not demonstrated a substantial likelihood that the county will continue to act in a discriminatory manner."

The judge also noted that it was Narconon, which won a portion of what it sought in the lawsuit, seeking the injunction; it had been the property owner — Toucan Partners — that had sought the original permit, and Toucan lost its claims in the lawsuit.

Narconon's attorney, Ethan Loeb, did not return a call or an email seeking comment on the outcome.

Narconon is a drug rehabilitation program based on the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the Church of Scientology, and is financially supported by Scientologists.

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

Spring Hill drug rehab center will have to go through county to expand, judge rules 04/03/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 3, 2013 6:51pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Trumps travel ban to be replaced by restrictions tailored to certain countries

    Nation

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's ban on travelers from six majority-Muslim countries is set to be replaced as soon as this weekend with more targeted restrictions on visits to the United States that would vary by country, the New York Times reports, citing officials familiar with the plans.

    President Donald Trump's ban on travelers from six majority-Muslim countries is set to be replaced as soon as this weekend with more targeted restrictions on visits to the United States that would vary by country, officials familiar with the plans said Friday. The new restrictions, aimed at preventing security threats from entering the United States, could go into effect Sunday after the conclusion of a 90-day policy review undertaken as part of the administration's original travel ban. Though the restrictions would differ for each country, people living in the targeted nations could be prevented from traveling to the United States or could face increased scrutiny as they seek to obtain a visa. [Associated Press]
  2. New World Brewery is closing. Where will all its concerts go now?

    Blogs

    Ever since it was announced that New World Brewery was closing its beloved Ybor City location and relocating to a spot farther north, there’s been an outpouring of nostalgia from artists, promoters and fans throughout the Tampa Bay music scene.

    Allison Weiss performed at New World Brewery in 2015.
  3. Farewell, New World Brewery: 11 Tampa music scene regulars toast a beloved venue

    Blogs

    It's hard to put into words what New World Brewery has meant to the Tampa music scene over the past 22 years.

    Matt Burke and Have Gun, Will Travel, shown performing at New World Brewery in 2009. Burke credits the venue with shaping how the band wanted to develop.
  4. Betsy DeVos rescinds Obama-era rules on campus sexual assault

    Blogs

    Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has said over and over again that sexual assault on campus is an issue she wants to get right.

    Education Secretary Betsy DeVos
  5. In dollars: How valuable are Florida's university football programs?

    Business

    The University of Florida football program is valued in a new study at $682 million, making it the most valuable university team in the state but still worth far less than several college programs topping $1 billion. Four years ago, UF's program was valued at just under $600 million.

    The University of Florida football program is valued at  $682 million, making it the most valuable by far in the Sunshine State. Pictured are UF cheerleaders leading the crowd in a Gator cheer on Clearwater Beach last December during the Outback Bowl Beach Day on Clearwater Beach. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]