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Land swap may end fight over county water tanks

Residents of Landmark Oaks condominiums may have found an ally in their battle against having two 50-foot county water tanks built across McMullen-Booth Road from their complex.

The Southwest Florida Water Management District, or Swiftmud, has agreed to explore a possible land swap with the county that would allow the tanks to be built in Canal Park in Oldsmar.

County officials received a letter Monday from Swiftmud expressing a willingness to re-examine a county request to build the tanks in Canal Park, along Lake Tarpon Outfall Canal. The tanks, each 50 to 60 feet tall and holding up to 2.5-million gallons of reclaimed water, would serve residents in northwest Pinellas County, a group that does not include Landmark Oaks.

County commissioners agreed Tuesday to put on hold a rezoning request for the 2{-acre tank site on the east side of McMullen-Booth Road, 332 feet north of Curlew Road, so that officials can work out a land swap.

Bob Peacock, a county environmental specialist on the project, said he approached Swiftmud twice, in 1999 and in June, about a land exchange. He said Swiftmud staffers told him that Swiftmud wanted the Canal Park property to remain available for depositing material dredged from the canal.

At a neighborhood meeting last week, county Commissioner Susan Latvala, who sits on the board of Tampa Bay Water, told Landmark Oaks residents that she would contact a Swiftmud board member.

Fritz H. Musselmann, land resources director of Swiftmud, told Latvala in a letter Monday that "the District would like to accommodate the county's need."

Herb Wall, vice president of the Landmark Oaks condo association, said residents are pleased.

"I think it's a wonderful opportunity to resolve the issue," Wall said.

_ Staff writer Janel Stephens can be reached at (727) 445-4243.