1. Archive

Residents win concessions on camp

Istachatta and Nobleton residents, saying their wishes had been ignored, persuaded the Florida Kiwanis Foundation on Tuesday to leave more land for public parks and make other changes to the proposed camp in the northeastern corner of Hernando County. Dennis Ausley, vice chairman of the Istachatta/Nobleton Recreation District Board, came before the Hernando County Commission in hopes of persuading commissioners to change plans for a $10-million summer camp and resort-like conference center with room for more than 500 people.

County Attorney Bruce Snow said the commission probably did not have the authority to change the final plans, approved this month by the Board of Zoning Adjustment and Appeals. But Snow met with representatives from both sides to work out a compromise.

In the informal agreement, residents won the following concessions:

A wetlands area will be left as public parkland instead of being included in the development area.

No more than 500 people will be allowed to spend the night at the camp.

The main entrance will be on County Road 476, and a previously planned entrance on Osage Road will be used only for emergency vehicles. Neighbors were concerned that Osage Road was too small to handle traffic from the camp.

A sewage treatment plant must be built at least 1,000 feet from Osage Road, rather than on the northern boundary.

The Kiwanis Foundation must obtain permission from the Istachatta/Nobleton Recreation District Board before opening a rifle range.

Ausley said recreation district board members were angry because they never were told of drastic changes to the camp plan they approved in concept two years ago.

"We would like to keep it out of court. We would like to sit down with the County Commission because you were overlooked in this, too," he said.

After the meeting, Ausley said he was satisfied with the agreement, and said it could have been reached earlier. He blamed the Kiwanis Foundation's lawyer, Joe Mason, for being uncooperative.

"If these concessions can be made, I think everything can be worked out," Ausley said. "I believe (Mason) was the problem behind the whole thing."

Mason, who huddled with the various representatives and pulled Snow away from the regular meeting to finish the negotiations, said the original plan was simply a rough design that everyone involved knew would change.

Snow suggested the two groups sign a private agreement spelling out the new conditions. He said the matter might have to go before the zoning board again. The board, which has jurisdiction over some zoning questions, approved the original project in 1988.

The 275-acre parcel along Lake Lindsey Road was given to Hernando County by the federal government in the early 1970s on the condition that it be used for recreation. The recreation district was established to raise money for and manage the property.

The Kiwanis Foundation proposed several years ago to build a free camp for handicapped and underprivileged youths on part of the land. The proposal then was expanded to include conference and retreat centers to be used by churches and service groups. Fees from the conference and retreat centers would be used to pay for the youth camp, and 5 percent of the revenues would go to the recreation district board to develop the remaining public land.

The Kiwanis Foundation hopes to begin construction of the youth camp later this year.

Up next:Winter waves