Project study yields dispute April 2, article
Dredging is for marina, not public
SunWest is not an applicant for the dredging permit. Pasco County is the applicant. The channel improvements (dredging) requested in the permit are stated as necessary to provide additional access to the gulf. The application calls for creating a canal 10 feet deep and 6 miles long, and a trailerable boat-launching facility.
The dredging would irreparably harm Fillman's Bayou fishery, one of the hot spots for recreational anglers. The existing channel is adequate for boats that are reasonably trailerable. It must be made clear that the Army Corps of Engineers, which issues the permits, is prohibited from approving projects for the benefit of private entities. Only the sort of large boats that would require in-water storage at the proposed SunWest marina will require the requested dredging.
The dredging permit application must stand or fail with no consideration of the proposed SunWest DRI. Since SunWest is not a prospective permitee on the dredge, why should its opinion carry any more weight than that of the average citizen?
Why didn't the county administrator inform Mr. Carpenter that he was out of line? Perhaps Commissioner Jack Mariano might want to rethink his unqualified support of this boondoggle.
Mr. Carpenter is quoted in your article as saying that county biologist Bob Tietz's requests for information and requirements to think this project through completely make permitting almost impossible on a channel crucial to the development. But Carpenter's people sing a different tune during the Development of Regional Impact review process.
Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council asked, "Because the access channel and canal are integral parts of the project, provide a complete answer to question 37 (Marinas)." Mr. Carpenter's team replied: "As noted previously, the access channel and canal are not integral parts of the project. The integral part of the project is the interconnected lakes …"
The Southwest Florida Water Management District was told "The channel enhancement is an important amenity to, but is not crucial to, the proposed development." To Florida DEP, they replied, "the deep water canal is not an integral part of the SunWest HarbourTowne DRI."
So what's this fuss about?
I believe Mr. Carpenter knows his plan smells to high heaven. While maintaining in public that the canal dredge is not a part of his development, he works behind the backs of environmental professionals such as Bob Tietz to bring pressure on them to sign off on this unneeded dredging and its associated environmental damage. Remember Magnolia Bay?
Leslie Neumann, trustee of Gulf Coast Conservancy, Aripeka
It's time to help business owners
I can understand Mr. Carpenter's frustration. But it should be noted that his problem is part of a larger problem. Permitting problems are endemic to Pasco County and routinely cost business owners thousands of unnecessary dollars.
This causes economic hardship for the owner, the employees and the businesses where employees spend their money, and ultimately the county as a whole. In past years there have been consultants hired and changes implemented to create an efficient permitting process, yet nothing seems to have changed. I know several small business owners who have, or are presently, suffering economic hardship due to permitting delays, unnecessary requirements or simply inefficient use of time requirements, resulting in about 30 people unemployed.
While I applaud County Administrator John Gallagher's attention in these issues, such action does not solve the problem. Instead it creates a perception of favoritism, a perception that is already held by far too many of the citizens. This perception of favoritism coupled with the known permitting headaches in Pasco County tend to send businesses (especially small business) elsewhere. Creating an environment that is not conducive to business is contrary to what the county should be doing.
Pasco County's inability to create a timely and reasonable permitting process shows a level of indifference to the citizens of this county that must change. This change will only occur when the elected officials are willing to leave the board room, engage the small business owners and walk through the process with them to see first hand what issues might need addressed. It is my belief that elected officials are supposed to represent the people, which requires knowing the people and the world their constituents live in. Perhaps we need new leadership,
Nicholas Planck, New Port Richey