1. Archive

Pasco residents need to become involved

Re: Developer agrees to pay fine, Sept. 17

Editor: This is one more example of the disregard and contempt developers have for the laws and regulations of developing land in Pasco County. Can anyone honestly say that a $200,000 fine to a company the size of M/I Homes actually means anything? We all know that it is like $20 to the average person out there. The fine should have been more like $2-million, which would have made them think twice before filing in retention ponds again. These ponds are there for the benefit of the residents to prevent flooding, not to be filled in for the greed of the developer and the builder.

The county commissioners' campaign chests are all filled by the builders, developers and Realtors in this county; maybe this is why the fine is so low and they are allowed to continue building.

People in Pasco County need to get involved and look at what the so-called representatives of their districts are doing. When something is wrong, attend the meetings and fight them on their decisions. Right now, Pasco County is like the days of the Wild West, for the developers and builders do as they want and however they want. Just get the homes up and we will worry about it later; just bring those taxes in.

Thomas Moran, Trinity

EDITOR'S NOTE: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers levied the fine, not Pasco County.

Clamp down on abuse of elderly

Re: Man says debt paid; relative not so sure, Sept. 19

Editor: As an advocate for the elderly, reading Steve Thompson's article evoked feelings of sadness, followed by anger.

It appears Donald Hughes used Katie Barr's funds to pay his court-ordered restitution. Who is going to pay Katie Barr's restitution? Another elderly victim?

Hughes also claimed to have respect for "old people" and claimed "I'm all the time doing stuff for old people." Hughes' statement should be investigated by law enforcement; they may discover additional victims.

Since many cases go unreported, the economic and social impact of financial exploitation of the elderly is unknown.

In many of the reported cases, the victim's assets are gone before the exploitation is discovered.

Chapter 825 of the Florida Statues deals specifically with abuse, neglect and exploitation of the elderly. It establishes criminal penalties for persons in positions of trust and confidence who exploit an elderly person's assets or property. Exploitation involving assets or property in excess of $100,000 is a felony of the first degree, punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Our elderly population should be protected and respected, not victimized, as Katie Barr appears to have been. These are horrific acts, as they are committed upon our most vulnerable citizens. It's time to "throw the book" at these elderly predators.

Joanne Rivera-Therrell, Hudson

School impact fees must be updated

Editor: Council of Neighborhood Associations (CONA) representatives met with the school district's impact fee consultant on Friday, Sept. 17, to discuss the data and assumptions going into a study scheduled by the county's school impact fee ordinance.

Officers and board members have been meeting with county commissioners and school district officials since April to urge them to bring the fees in line with the current impact of development.

CONA is an organization of homeowner associations, community development districts and community councils bringing education and information to its members, and working together to enhance the quality of life in Pasco County.

CONA is seeking an increase in the school impact fees because residential development is creating a demand for school construction that taxpayers cannot keep up with. Some of our schools are severely overcrowded. We believe it is in the best interest of our member communities and the children who live in them to have adequate school facilities.

The fees, which are assessed on new homes only, are currently $1,694 for single-family dwellings, $1,187 for mobile homes and $722 for multifamily dwellings. At this level, $8-million to $9-million is generated annually for new school construction, which is only half the amount necessary to build one elementary school.

New home construction is creating a far greater demand than this level would suggest. Keep in mind that when the County Commission approves an 800-home subdivision, which is small by recent standards, the need for a new elementary school is created instantly. Now consider how many subdivisions are approved each year.

CONA's position _ giving consideration to the number of families that moved into homes previously occupied by "empty nesters" over the past 10 years _ is that the penny sales tax approved in March, combined with property taxes, represents the fair-share needed from established residents.

The school district and County Commission must now set the school impact fees at a level that is commensurate with the demand created by a thriving development industry in order to ensure that school construction keeps pace with growth and is adequately funded over the next 10 years.

Mel Phillips and Larry McLaughlin, CONA

EDITOR'S NOTE: The cost of a new elementary school is approximately $10-million to $12-million. Also, the school district says approximately 2,500 new homes generate the need for an additional elementary school.

Infrastructure must precede growth

Editor: While there is a great influx of new people to Pasco County, the roads, drinking water resources, police and firefighters basically remain the same.

Many of our roads are two lanes. If we needed to quickly evacuate in this area, it would be a disaster.

For example, U.S. 41 is a main artery and yet from Land O'Lakes High School to the Pasco/Hernando line, it is a two-lane road. The same is true for State Road 52, which is two lanes from Moon Lake Road through Dade City. Look what happens when there is an accident on U.S. 41 and SR 52. There are very few alternate routes, and most of these routes mean going miles and miles out of your way.

What will happen if we build a grocery store, a mall, or when the already approved massive developments become a reality? As it currently stands, the roads cannot handle the present volume of traffic.

Supplying water to current and new residents in our county is another concern. This is the first time since the no-name storm that we have water in our ponds and in the surrounding ponds and lakes.

However, we are still on restricted watering and increased use of the water supply will only further strain an already overstressed aquifer.

I think new development should be stopped until these problems are addressed.

Jean Joynes, Spring Hill

Youths thanked for their service

Editor: I just want to say thank you and what a great job you have done in raising your children.

They came with rakes, shovels, pitchfork, chain saw, wheelbarrows and gloves. My yard was cleared of tree damage and debris from Frances. The team work was just amazing to me.

The most wonderful part of this whole scene is the fact that none of these young people knew who I was, only a friend of their grandma. Thank you and may God bless each of you.

Naomi Levet, Elfers

Enjoying columns from far away

Re: Jan Glidewell

Editor: Having been a fan of Jan's for my 17 years in Florida, I was sad when he chose to retire. Subsequently, last year my husband and I relocated to California.

How surprised and happy I was to see his column when I just happened to access the St. Petersburg Times Web site and see his picture and column. I guess I'll continue to return to this Web site, not just to keep up with what's going on back home, but to also see what's going on with my favorite columnist.

By the way, the local newspaper, the Orange County Register, cannot hold a candle to the St. Petersburg Times in any way.

Pat Guidry, Anaheim, Calif.