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Development during drought is irresponsible

Editor: According to newspaper reports of the March meeting of the Pasco County Planning Commission, it is not possible to use the acute shortage of water in the area as a reason to not approve proposed future development. That position is not surprising, but it is disappointing.

After all, one of the basic reasons for having any sort of planning process is to assure that future growth is compatible with the available resources and services. Water is one of the most essential resources. There is currently an acute shortage of water, which has led to severe restrictions on individual use of that resource. The situation is due in part to an acute drought, which is temporary. But droughts have occurred in the past and will occur in the future.

The Pasco County comprehensive plan provides that the county shall "provide the capability to access, through 2010, groundwater supplies of sufficient yield to provide all required potable water." At this time, the county is not able to do that. The responsibility has been transferred to Tampa Bay Water, but that does not alter the basic fact. The water is not available. Future development already approved will vastly increase the need for water. There are plans for developing new sources of water, by the desalination process, but these will not materialize for some time.

It is, at the very least, irresponsible of county officials to approve vast amounts of new development when the water to serve them is not available.

There are two courses of action. One, to allow and even encourage growth until a point is reached where the environmental damage is critical and probably irreversible. Two, to limit growth to the availability of water and other resources, and by the amount of environmental damage it does. Pasco County seems to be following the first course. To my knowledge, it has never turned down or seriously modified any proposed large development.

I should add that my quote from the comprehensive plan is from the original 1989 version. There is a much more recent plan, but copies of that were not available to the public at the time of the Planning Commission hearing. How can you have a public hearing when the most important document related to the hearing is not available?

Erwin W. Fellows, Zephyrhills

Increasing water rates solves nothing

Editor: I see that Pasco County is raising rates of water usage and has increased fines to limit the use of water.

What they should have considered passing is the following water-saving methods: eliminate brushing teeth and buy breath mints; showers must be taken once a week and must be taken as groups, family members or not; large buckets must be placed outside to collect rainwater to be used to flush toilets; all cooking must be of frozen dinners in the microwave, eliminating dish washing; because there is no limit on how much water may be used to make soda or beer, everyone must drink only these, excluding babies, who must drink milk, hoping the cows don't go dry; if so, back to the soda and beer.

Now, do these options sound stupid? So does raising the price of water.

Walden St. Germain, Hudson

Apartment development designed poorly

Editor: The Lake Lisa Apartments will be an eyesore surrounded by one-family homes in front in back and on both ends.

Embassy Hills and Regency Park have one-family homes, paved streets and sidewalks. Commissioners Altman, Hildebrand and Schrader can't top this. New Port Richey needs apartments to bring in taxes to pave streets and put down sidewalks.

I've been living in Embassy Hills 28 years.

Anne P. Roe, Port Richey

Group needs participation, not criticism

Re: Need to raise up neighborhood? It takes a code enforcer, March 13 letter.

Editor: We agree that code enforcement is an important issue, but we take serious issue with the writer's opinion concerning the lack of involvement by the Embassy Hills Civic Association in code enforcement, etc.

Please be advised that we are a civic association, which is entirely different from a homeowners association. Money to operate a homeowners association comes from assessment of all landowners within the community. The money so collected actually belongs to the community. Our civic association does not receive any tax or assessment money. All money for the association is derived from voluntary dues and the labor of volunteers who work the bingo games, prepare food in the kitchen, and set up tables for various rentals and a lot of other functions.

Our volunteers work many hours just to pay the bills and keep the doors open. Many hours of volunteer time is spent just repairing the building and grounds because we cannot afford to contract these services. We donate money to various charities throughout the year. The majority of the money collected is used for utilities and upkeep of our facility.

I would hope most would agree that the association funds do not belong to the community but belong to the association membership as a whole. They are the ones that provided funds through membership fees and worked many hours in fundraising activities.

It is interesting to note that all of the criticism we have heard comes from non-members of the association. Most want to stand on the sidelines, pay no dues and devote no time or effort to the association, and want the association to do something for them. Some even send anonymous letters complaining of our lack of accomplishments. These people in effect want something for nothing. Many demand it. Some need to place blame when things don't go their way. To others, criticism is a way to boast of their accomplishments.

It is also interesting to note that some of the criticism such as the letter writer's comes from non-residents of Embassy Hills. Such criticism is focused on very narrow views of what our association should be and completely ignores the positive things we do for the community. Our clubhouse is home for bingo players, square dancers, card players and people who want to exercise. We are also involved in code enforcement.

We have made a difference. I am quite proud of the accomplishments of our code enforcement volunteer. Most of the criticism coes from people that have no firsthand knowledge of our activities, programs, problems, needs or efforts, and made no attempt to research the subject before putting pen or telephone in hand. It is unfortunate that we do not measure up to everyone's standards for performance. We must continue our efforts to keep the association solvent.

Embassy Hills has about 2800 homes, but only 400 members (300 households). This is not what one would consider good community involvement. The letter to the editor does nothing to improve community participation and may deter some member of the community from joining the association. Fewer members results in fewer dollars for the club treasury. The number of members and the club's financial status determine the political clout of any organization. People should become involved in association activities and work from within the association to do more for the good of the community.

Our association is based on the principles of democracy. If you are a member, you have a vote and a voice in determining the agenda the association is to follow.

The letter speaks of apathy. It is unfair to place that label on the people who give of their time to volunteer and work for the association while others watch and criticize from the sidelines. What label would the writer recommend for those who criticize without any knowledge of the facts and without donating time, effort or financial support?

Georgianna Nuce, president

Embassy Hills Civic Association

Student seeks help with vacation project

Editor: I am an eighth-grade student at Washington Manor Middle School in San Leandro, Calif. I am currently doing a school project that entails planning a vacation to your fine state.

I would greatly appreciate any information or memorabilia that your generous readers could send me. I am interested in family activities, interesting historical sights and unique artifacts that make your state special.

Thank you for your time and consideration. They can be sent c/o John McLens, 1170 Fargo Ave., San Leandro, CA 94579.

Amena Mansoor, San Leandro, Calif.