Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Story doesn't jibe on Dade City Commissioner Camille Hernandez's private well

DADE CITY — City officials aren't sure the story adds up.

David Hernandez, the husband of City Commissioner Camille Hernandez, has argued the well on the couple's property predates the city's ban on private wells. He said the well was unearthed in 2001 during construction work, and a building inspector named Mike Barthle told them the well could be repaired and put to use.

But city records show Barthle worked in the city's public works department at the time. He didn't start in the building division until the following year.

"I can't see why he would have been out there," said City Manager Billy Poe.

City staff issued a citation last month to the Hernandezes for having an illegal well. The couple has an April 9 court date and could face a fine of up to $500 plus administrative fees.

Poe said the Hernandezes met with city staff last week and are in the process of locating paperwork to prove the well predates the ban. If they can prove it does, the citation would be dropped.

Officials banned private wells within the city limits in 1982 to protect the city's water supply and utility revenue.

After documentation surfaced last fall indicating Camille Hernandez had her own well, officials sent out notices to her and a dozen other residents who may have had wells installed after the ban was enacted.

The property owners had until Jan. 22 to explain their private wells to city officials.

Six proved they did not have wells and four provided documentation that the wells either predated the ordinance, or were located outside the city limits and had the proper backflow protection device.

The Hernandezes and Robert Avila, who ran unsuccessfully for the City Commission in 2008, both supplied eleventh-hour responses on Jan. 22.

But their explanations didn't satisfy city staff.

In his letter, Avila said the property's original well was replaced during a renovation before he bought the home in 1999. Drilling of the new well 22 years ago involved an attorney and was approved by the city, Avila said.

The city is not aware of any paperwork backing his claims.

"That's all stuff we have to look at," Poe said.

Until the Avilas and Hernandezes show otherwise, staffers assume both wells are illegal. They are the only property owners so far facing citations.

None of them returned calls for this story.

The issue could hang over Camille Hernandez this election season if she decides to seek another term. Her term ends in April, and her court date on the citation precedes the city's election by four days.

That is just coincidence, city staff said. The court dates for these types of infractions are held every other month and staff did not want the matter to drag on.

If the Avilas and Hernandezes prove their wells to be either legal or abandoned, the citations could be dismissed.

The city sent additional inquiries to three other property owners in January who may have private wells. They have until March to respond.

Helen Anne Travis can be reached at htravis@sptimes.com or (813) 435-7312.

Story doesn't jibe on Dade City Commissioner Camille Hernandez's private well 02/05/10 [Last modified: Friday, February 5, 2010 9:50pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect

    Bucs

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  2. Hopes fade after landslide destroys Chinese village (w/video)

    World

    Crews searching through the night in the rubble left by a landslide that buried a mountain village under tons of soil and rocks in southwestern China found 15 bodies, but more than 110 more people remained missing.

    Vehicles and people line a road leading to the site of a landslide in Xinmo village in Mao County on Saturday in southwestern China’s Sichuan Province. More than 100 people remained missing after the village was buried under tons of rocks and soil.
  3. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  4. Thousands converge in two St. Pete locations celebrating LGBT rights

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom Rockhill didn't know what to expect Saturday, but by noon people were knocking on the door of his bar Right Around the Corner in Grand Central.

    (From left to right) Emma Chalut 18, gets a rainbow sticker on her cheek from her sister Ellie, 15 both of Jacksonville before the annual St. Pete Pride parade in downtown St. Petersburg on Saturday. This year the route was changed from the Grand Central and Kenwood area to Bayshore Drive.
[EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]
  5. Retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald dies

    TALLAHASSEE — A former Florida Supreme Court justice, who wrote a decision that prevented lawyers from excluding jurors because of their race, has died.

    Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Parker Lee McDonald died Saturday, the court said in a statement. He was 93.