NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco County's top growth management official is retiring, and he doesn't want any taint from a proposed landfill hanging onto him once he's out.
Growth management administrator Sam Steffey, 61, has asked to be taken off the review of Angelo's Aggregate Materials' proposal to open a landfill south of Dade City. It's one of most heated disputes in the county and likely to head to the courts.
"I do not desire having to spend the next two years or more in litigation, especially after I am retired," Steffey wrote to County Administrator John Gallagher last month.
Steffey did not return calls for comment Friday.
Steffey, who earns $106,800 a year, has scheduled April 30 as his last day through a deferred retirement program. He joined the county in 1978, becoming planning director in 1985 and growth management chief in 1991.
Although most attention has focused on the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's pending decision on whether to permit the project, the county also has to vote on it.
Steffey's initial finding is that Angelo's must win a potentially arduous process to change the county's long-term growth plan before it can build the landfill. If Angelo's loses, county officials expect a court fight.
Steffey wants Gallagher to hire an outside firm to make a final decision on whether the county needs to change its plan.
The county has begun interviewing candidates to replace Steffey.
Gallagher indicated he doesn't know whether he will hire an outside planner in Steffey's stead.
David DeCamp can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6232.