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GEIGER TRIES TO CALM HELIPAD HUBBUB

Matt Geiger had a confession to make Monday night as he met with neighbors to allay concerns about building a heliport on his property.

The former NBA player said his friends, with him as a passenger, have landed helicopters on his 36-acre estate many times over the past few years.

He said nobody complained.

In fact the only reaction from his neighbors, he said, has been, "Wow, that was pretty cool.''

Bruce Rinker, director of Pinellas County's Environmental Lands Division who works out of nearby Brooker Creek Preserve, sat back in his chair Monday and smiled.

"We knew it was you!'' he said.

Rinker and more than a dozen neighbors attended a meeting Geiger had set up at the Allegro at East Lake retirement community hoping to ease their fears about his plans to build a heliport. He and zoning consultant Todd Pressman also wanted to get residents' input.

Geiger shared the proposed flight path, which would take the chopper over the preserve and not over residents' houses.

A county hearing on the proposed heliport is set for Aug. 9.

Barbara Walker, a resident of East Lake and a member of the Clearwater Audubon Society, is not convinced installing a helicopter pad near the preserve is a wise thing to do.

"We are concerned about the environmental impact,'' she said Tuesday. "Increased aircraft is going to affect the birds.''

DUNEDIN

City considers buying Bon Appetit site

Five months after city commissioners rejected a development plan for a prime piece of downtown waterfront property, city leaders are now exploring whether to buy the land.

At issue is the property housing Bon Appetit restaurant and Best Western hotel, 150 Marina Plaza.

The asking price: $4.6-million, according to a city memo. That price would include, apparently, honoring the remaining 38-year lease for both the restaurant and hotel.

LARGO

Commission says no to deep budget cuts

The City Commission voted Tuesday night to override a state law mandating property tax cuts next year, making it one of just a handful of communities to do so.

Using a little-known provision in the law that the Legislature approved this year, a super majority of the commissioners, 5 of 7, voted to stave off the deep cuts during a special meeting, saying they think residents want services more than a tax break.

City commissioners approved a maximum property tax rate lower than the current rate, but higher than state requirements that reduce city property tax collections 9 percent.

NEW PORT RICHEY

Holes drive up cost of 20-acre reservoir

The sinking earth has caused costs to jump $5.6-million for a Pasco County reservoir demanded by Florida regulators.

The county has to build a 20-acre reservoir southeast of U.S. 41 and Ehren Cutoff to store unused reclaimed water. The treated wastewater is used to irrigate yards and golf courses.

But as workers began building the earthen walls for the Land O'Lakes reservoir, small holes broke open on the reservoir bottom.

To fix them, the County Commission on Tuesday approved a third round of massive grouting work, commonly done for sinkholes.

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