Plan for new channel deserves close scrutiny Jan. 15 editorial
Dredge violates county's own plan
The editorial was right on the mark. In applying for this dredge permit, Pasco County has failed to show how it is following its own goals, objectives and policies as published in the county comprehensive plan.
An environmental impact statement is required by the comprehensive plan to show that the impact of the project on natural resources is not adverse. No environmental impact statement has been ordered by the county or submitted to the Army Corps of Engineers.
The comprehensive plan also prohibits the use of public money for private benefit, and this in itself is reason to deny the permit application out of hand. (Policy COA 2.2.2 Coastal High Hazard Area: Infrastructure Limitations — "Pasco County shall not provide nor allow either directly or indirectly infrastructure to be provided to serve the private development of offshore islands, coastal swamps, marshlands, and beaches. Pasco County shall prohibit county investments for public infrastructure within the coastal high hazard area except for public recreation.'' And, Policy COA 2.4.1 — "Pasco County shall prohibit the expenditure of county funds for the construction of facilities within the coastal high hazard area which would open up new areas for development.'')
The sole reason for dredging to the width and depth requested is to accommodate the private interests proposing SunWest Harbourtowne. As proposed in the intertwined SunWest DRI, the dredging would establish a route to the Gulf of Mexico for private yachts berthed in a marina where public access to facilities is denied. Exceptions to this prohibition are public recreation and facilities needed to serve existing development. The existing channel is adequate for the type of boats (transported via trailer) that the county park at SunWest is designed to accommodate. Evidence of the channel's adequate width and depth is demonstrated by the fact that the SunWest mine property owner has constructed a boat launch facility on the north side of the existing channel and has solicited charter captains to use it for a fee.
The county's application further violates its policy on seagrass protection and its policy on development conditions for marinas which states they be located in areas which require minimal submerged land alteration. A dredged channel over 4 miles in length can hardly be called a "minimal submerged land alteration."
Additionally, Pasco's application fails to demonstrate consistency with the state Department of Environmental Protection coastal zone management plan. Without an environmental impact statement, compliance with the coastal zone management plan may not be assumed.
Areas of critical concern are defined by state law as: Containing, or having a significant impact upon, environmental or natural resources of regional or statewide importance, including but not limited to, state or federal parks, major rivers and estuaries, state environmentally endangered lands, Outstanding Florida Waters, and aquifer recharge areas, the uncontrolled private or public development of which would cause substantial deterioration of such resources.
The Fillman's Bayou flats area and adjacent marshes are critical to the maintenance of healthy populations of many species, both recreational and commercial, of fish. Destroying the integrity of this area to accommodate a private developer would result in a loss of spawning grounds, juvenile nurseries and habitat that has made this area an angling hot spot recognized on most fishing guides to the Gulf Coast.
The call for an environmental impact statement to assess the effects, both short term and cumulative, of the proposed dredge merely asks Pasco County to abide by its own rules and regulations. By his visceral ad hominem attacks aimed at responsible environmental professionals, Commissioner Jack Mariano has revealed that Pasco County realizes the proposed dredge cannot pass scrutiny on its merits.
McMillan Davis, Aripeka
Well, there's always a 0.2-second chance | Jan. 15 Bill Stevens column
Driver should have just stopped
The column about a driver who fought and beat a ticket for running a red light on U.S. 19 was clearly written in sympathy with the driver, who admittedly was wealthy and didn't need the $158. I admit that money could keep fuel in my car for several weeks, or feed my family for a significant amount of time, but that isn't the reason for this letter.
I'm writing because the driver was nit-picking about how the two-tenths of a second that his yellow light time was shorted was enough for him to travel 25 feet when going the speed limit. Nowhere in the column did it mention that the 4.3 seconds that the light was yellow should have been plenty of time for our hero to slow down, if it wasn't abundantly clear that this driver considers yellow lights mere suggestions.
While the driver admitted to running the light, I feel the column would have been much fairer overall had the point been made that the driver had no intention to stop. In other words, red lights are for the rest of us. Let's remember the child, or family, or whoever that might be on the other side of that red light.
Bill Weinheimer, Zephyrhills
Discipline and respect are key | Jan. 15 letter
Parents have key role in schooling
Having recently read the letter asking why aren't all schools fundamental, I felt the need to give my input. As a parent it was a pleasure back in 1976 to work closely with other parents seeking ways to make changes in the educational process.
We were able, with the assistance of the school system, to begin the first of many existing fundamental schools within a local district.
Let me ask you this. Are all students sent to school with a burning desire to learn and do they understand just why school is the place to be, five days a week? Have they had 10 hours of sleep before arriving each morning and has a full breakfast been served to them before appearing in class? Are parents willing to accept the requirement to conference and work closely with the student's teacher so as to know the exact needs and successes of their child?
I could go on and on. Society has drastically changed and the environments that children are coming from are vastly different. I'm not sure what the ultimate answer is, but I do know that fundamental schools are a huge success if parents who choose them are made fully aware of their many obligations.
Diane J. Faulkner, New Port Richey
Out of jail, his next steps were his last | Jan. 13 article
Police shouldn't have let Lowe go
Who authorized David Lowe to be released on foot into the dark night with no visible transportation?
Who expressed concern that he had to go nearly 30 miles on foot in the dark to reach his home in Holiday?
Given his trespassing misdemeanor charge while digging through a Dumpster at a nearby store, how could he not have been deemed mentally unstable and possibly, since he could not afford a cab, indigent?
One could only hope that the continuing investigation in this case will bring needed change to the judicial/police process in order to prevent this situation from happening in the future.
Jack Bechtold, New Port Richey
Make certain of voter registration
People should check their voter registration status. When the Legislature made registering and voting more difficult, in the name of fighting voter fraud, registrations may have been purged from the voter rolls.
If you have not requested your absentee ballot (vote by mail ballot) do so now. You will not get a ballot automatically even if your received one last time.
Protect your vote. Go to pascovotes.com to check your registration status.
Lynn W. Lindeman, Hudson