04/28/16 Local Government
NEW PORT RICHEY — Readers won't be buying their Sunday newspapers from street-corner vendors in Pasco County any longer.
On Tuesday, a unanimous County Commission extended a ban on roadside soliciting to seven days a week, a move intended to curb once-a-week panhandlers and newspaper hawkers. The ordinance came amid renewed safety concerns after a man selling the Tampa Bay Times was struck and killed on U.S. 19 in December. ...
04/28/16 Local Government
A long time ago, back when there was still a personal compulsion to try to compete on a basketball court, I'd drive 3 miles from my west Pasco apartment to the city of New Port Richey's recreation center on Van Buren Street. For a $1 admission fee, the Saturday mornings would be filled with full-court, pickup games of hoops.
If that were today, I'd be a highly coveted asset — an out-of-towner willing to plunk down money (the daily fee is now $7.50) to exercise at the facility. It is the audience to be targeted as the city tries to broaden membership at the Recreation & Aquatic Center, which reopened in 2007 after a $14 million renovation and expansion. It turned a dank gym and single swimming pool into a spectacular space of four pools, two gymnasium courts, a fitness center, a dance studio and a skate park, all sharing a single site....
NEW PORT RICHEY — A pair of eagle nests couldn't ground a plan to turn a portion of 80 coastal acres in Holiday into a new 60-home neighborhood.
On Tuesday, county commissioners unanimously approved rezoning the Mickler family property into a master planned development that will allow 60 homes on 25 acres north of Strauber Memorial Highway and east of Bailee's Bluff Road.
The rezoning came amid objections from environmental groups and residents in nearby neighborhoods, who protested potential harm to wildlife, lost habitat, flooding and additional traffic on Strauber, a winding two-lane road that is considered substandard because of its narrow width....
LAND O'LAKES — Ace Golf, the owner of three golf courses in New Tampa and northern Pinellas, is poised to acquire the closed Plantation Palms Golf Club, with plans for golfers to be walking the fairways in Land O'Lakes by September.
The course, in the 821-home community of the same name on the east side of Collier Parkway, closed two years ago and was listed as a short sale for $1.2 million. On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of the Interior approved a $700,000 sale to Ace Golf, netting just less than $393,000 toward the debt that owner MJS Golf Group owed on the federally guaranteed note. MJS still must agree to the sale, and the closing could take place in May....
Pasco County continues to keep it all in the family this political season.
First it was Debbie Wells, former wife of retiring Property Appraiser Mike Wells Sr., filing to run for the Pasco Commission District 1 seat. If elected, she will serve with her former son-in-law, Commissioner Mike Wells Jr.
Now, the race for property appraiser has drawn a little less well-known political name, but one that’s been on the ballot before. Gary Joiner, 52, the director of operations at the Pasco Tax Collector’s Office, has filed candidacy papers to run for property appraiser....
04/21/16 Local Government
Drive around northeastern Pasco County and the street signs inform you of the characteristics people are eager to preserve.
Tranquiview Lane. (So laid back they forgot the "l'' in tranquil?)
It brings to mind solitude, equestrian living, dirt roads, large pastures and rural lifestyles.
The roads wind among the 66,000 acres and 15,000 people in the northeast quadrant of the county, bordered by Bellamy Brothers Boulevard on the west, the Green Swamp on the east, State Road 52 on the south and the Hernando County line on the north. A decade ago, county government christened this locale as its "northeast rural area" and embedded into the land-use plan the goals of protecting and preserving the existing rural and agricultural characteristics. The idea was for future homes to be built on multi-acre lots or for parcels to be developed as conservation neighborhoods, with home sites clustered but surrounded by wide-open greenery....
04/20/16 Local Government
Being responsible shouldn't be accompanied by an unexpected financial penalty.
That is the logic behind a proposed ordinance that will be considered Tuesday by the Pasco County Commission. The new rule, suggested by Commissioner Mike Moore, would outlaw the so-called predatory towing of vehicles left at bars or restaurants by drivers who hail a cab or call Uber for a ride home.
The proposal mirrors ordinances in Tampa and Hillsborough County that prohibit non-consensual towing of vehicles, from 9 p.m. to noon, that are outside establishments serving alcohol....
04/20/16 Local Government
NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco County is going to try to fix its far-reaching flooding problems the same way it finances residential street pavings — by asking neighborhood property owners to pay for the work.
On Tuesday, county commissioners agreed to treat a series of stormwater drainage projects similarly to their paving assessment program, in which property owners vote on whether to proceed at their own expense. The first nine drainage projects total nearly $32 million and range from the $12 million overhaul of the former Magnolia Valley Golf Club course into large-scale retention ponds, to installing new, larger outflow pipes and other work in the Forest Hills subdivision in Holiday for about $2.7 million....
04/14/16 Mass Transit
DADE CITY — Pasco County plans to add new bus service in Land O'Lakes and extend nighttime routes in west Pasco.
On Tuesday, county commissioners said they will consider including the service expansions on their capital project list for the 2016-17 budget year, which begins Oct. 1.
"I'm so glad the county is finally stepping up to the plate and doing something about it,'' said Christie Zimmer, a longtime member of the citizens group advising the county on transportation issues. "Hopefully, people will be using the system.''...
A concerned citizenry shouldn't require an engraved invitation to civic engagement.
Or, maybe they're not so concerned. Perhaps their attention is elsewhere: getting the kids to the Little League fields or to dance class, shopping for dinner, paying the mortgage or reviewing the statements for the rebounding 401(k) account.
The big road project planned through the community? If it's not in our back yard, why sweat it?...
Pasco County is again trying to dig a deeper channel from SunWest Park in Aripeka to the Gulf of Mexico.
The renewed permit application, financed by Gary Grubbs, owner of the adjoining property targeted for an upscale resort and housing development, comes 18 months after the Army Corps of Engineers rejected an earlier dredging application for a second time.
This time, said consultant Larry Evans of BC Peabody, the county will seek authorization for a shallower, shorter and realigned channel. The smaller channel, which would be 60 feet wide at the bottom, should damage up to 45 percent less of the sea grass that is present, he said....
04/12/16 Public Safety
DADE CITY — Last week, Kevin Guthrie dealt with a tornado hitting west Pasco and damaging 57 homes. This week, he stepped into the eye of another storm.
Guthrie, 45, hired in February as Pasco's emergency management director, has been promoted to the newly created job of director of emergency services, overseeing a reorganized department in charge of both the 911 center and the county's response to natural disasters and other emergencies....
Dimitri A. Delgado, a retired U.S. Coast Guard commander, and currently teaching U.S. Navy JROTC students at Pasco High School, is joining the field of candidates seeking to become the District 5 Pasco County commissioner.
Delgado, 51, filed his candidacy papers Friday and earlier announced his intentions to seek public office on Facebook. He is running as a non-partisan candidate. If he qualifies, he will face the winner of the Aug. 30 Republican primary among Rachel O’Connor, Ronald Oakley and Debbie Wells. No candidate from Democratic Party has filed for the seat based in east Pasco....
LUTZ — There will be no reason to go hungry if you're in the vicinity of the Tampa Premium Outlets mall near the Interstate 75/State Road 56 interchange.
Two casual dining chains, LongHorn Steakhouse and BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse, are planning new restaurants near the mall. Meanwhile, construction continues on two other restaurants: Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen and Chick-fil-A, adjacent to the Culver's Restaurant that opened seven weeks ago. Culver's was the first out-parcel to develop adjacent to the 110-store outlet mall, which opened in October....
WESLEY CHAPEL — The Williams Automotive Group of Wesley Chapel plans to expand its offerings by adding a Lexus dealership to its existing Toyota and Honda brands.
The company plans to build a 60,000-square-foot Lexus dealership on 8 acres abutting its existing Wesley Chapel Toyota dealership at 5300 Eagleston Blvd., south of State Road 54 and west of Bruce B. Downs Boulevard. Company owners David Williams and his brother John Williams, along with representatives of Spring Engineering, were scheduled to meet with Pasco County planners Tuesday to discuss the proposal....