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Letters to the Editors

Development should yield to good sense

© St. Petersburg Times
published July 14, 2002

Editor: I oppose and protest the granting of all zoning changes for Penn Drive south of Venable Street and Home Depot in Crystal River.

Citrus County does not need this development. It is a legal requirement to preserve wetlands, protect endangered species, and respect recognized historic, cultural, archaeological resources. This site qualifies for that protection.

A public interest review is required before approving any zoning changes, which include direct impacts, indirect impacts, and cumulative impacts. There are no sewer and water facilities.

Putting an entrance ramp from the south before Ozello Trail's traffic light means removing the berm and ditch in front of the church and White Aluminum Products Inc., thereby trespassing, causing flooding, infringement and wrongful appropriation to their rightful access. Properties behind both are considered wetlands.

Ozello Trail's traffic light cannot handle the load. Is anyone aware of this?

There are two breaks in the median between Ozello Trail and Venable Street, with no left-turn lanes in either direction.

Any tree more than four inches in circumference is protected by Citrus County's tree ordinance. Most of those trees are more than 50 years old.

The site also is in a floodplain/coastal high hazard area, Category 1, according to Robert Battista, county attorney, requiring mandatory evacuation to 11/2 miles east.

This site seriously floods during heavy rains.

In accordance with Executive Order 11988, the district engineer should avoid authorizing floodplain developments whenever practicable alternatives exist outside the floodplain.

There are alternative locations within a 3-mile radius, according to Corps Regulation 40 C.F.R. 230.10(3).

It is not economically practical, feasible or essential to destroy this last bastion of wetlands, indigenous forest, endangered species and prime ecological resources on these acres.

Perhaps the landowners should donate this entire property to the Federal Land Trust, where property tax is about a dollar per acre per year.
-- Della A. Bruens, Crystal River

In the end, Ted Williams was a man like any other

Editor: A little story about Ted Williams always intrigued me.

In February 1997, I was getting therapy at the Gulf Coast Aquatic Center on State Road 44 in Crystal River. The morning after the Ted Williams Museum's induction ceremony, Ted came hobbling in on his walker. I called out to him, "Hey, Ted. That was some party you threw."

He spun around with little kid eyes and said, "You were there? How much did you see?"

I said I was there from the start. He said, "There were three lieutenant generals there!" and held up three fingers.

At that moment all the superstars and celebrities and the master of ceremonies, Bob Costas, took a back seat. Ted's military career took center stage.

A couple of other times we spoke about baseball, Ted on his bike and me on my hand bike, and he was just another guy trying to get well.

I never told him I was a Yankee fan.
-- Anthony "Tony" LaCottiva, Crystal River

Extending Suncoast Parkway into Citrus will do only harm

Editor: I have serious concerns about the impact to Citrus County if the Florida Turnpike Commission builds the Suncoast Parkway 2. Right now it stops near the Citrus/Hernando county line at U.S. 98.

Since the parkway was built in Hernando County, numerous sinkholes have opened in the parkway's retention areas.

Residential wells along the parkway are tainted and some residents have to get their drinking water from 300-gallon tanks because of possible pollution to their wells (Sinkholes may have tainted wells in Hernando, Aug. 20, 2001, St. Petersburg Times).

The current terminus is at the southwest corner of the Annuttelgia Hammock. Any further construction will be right through the hammock. Toll roads are fenced. It would, in effect, divide the wildlife habitat with an eight-foot fence.

At the last Suncoast Advisory Committee meeting, the turnpike staff exhibited two maps of the study area. Both maps had several overlays defining the location of major wells, protected lands and other areas that should not be considered for the roadway.

Why two maps? If all the overlays are considered at once, it becomes obvious there is no feasible route that will not do irreparable harm to the wildlife, conservation lands, major well sites, as well as the quality-of-life issues of residents.

The Floridan aquifer runs unconfined through Citrus County. Being unconfined, it is vulnerable to pollution from runoff.

In Hernando County, less than one year after the parkway opened, eight sinkholes opened in retention areas along the parkway (8 sinkholes open along parkway, July 27, 2001, Tampa Tribune). The sinkholes ranged from 2 to 50 feet across. One month later the St. Petersburg Times of Aug 20, 2001, reported at least six wells were polluted with fecal coliform along the parkway.

John Parker of the Southwest Florida Water Management District said the construction of the parkway and the sinkholes probably were related.

The Brooksville Ridge runs through Citrus County and is a watershed for the aquifer. Building a road along this ridge would allow toxic chemicals from the road to enter the aquifer and, thus, the well fields in the area.

There doesn't seem to be any public good served by building the Citrus leg of the parkway. It cannot go any farther north because Levy County doesn't want it. That makes it a road to Red Level. That's close to being a road to nowhere.

The St. Petersburg Times article of July 16, 2000, by Craig Pittman, Flawed figures leave toll roads running flat, documents the blatant incompetence of URS Greiner Woodward Clyde. URS Vice President Hugh Miller admitted their traffic projections are guesses. These guesses are designed to pass feasibility, not to give accurate projections. The Osceola Parkway is a stunning example of how the Turnpike Commission used dummy figures from URS to build an unnecessary road.

Because of my concerns, I have demanded that the Federal Highway Administration perform a 4 (F) Review per USC 138, and that the review be done by an independent consultant.

I expect my elected representatives to consider the facts, not just a point of view.
-- Kathy Chetoka, Homosassa Springs

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