Keystone will watch its waterBy JOSH ZIMMER, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 3, 2003
KEYSTONE -- Hillsborough County officials attempting to revise the well field protection ordinance basically liken the 1992 document to an outdated history book.
But the Keystone Civic Association, schooled on the old version, is not so keen about the rewrite.
When planners put the ordinance together, they cast a wide safety net over northwest Hillsborough's copious groundwater sources, which for years have supplied drinking water to an increasing population that includes St. Petersburg. Doing so did not solve the problem of overpumping. But Keystone and Odessa residents saw the ordinance as a bulwark against overdevelopment, as construction was either prohibited near wellheads or limited to larger lots.
Now officials want to downsize those protected areas dramatically.
Better technology gives planners a much better idea of where the groundwater lies and how quickly pollution travels, City-County Planning Commission senior planner Shawn College said. In addition, new conservation agreements with Tampa Bay Water, the regional water supplier, place greater emphasis on surface water sources, which are not accounted for in the current ordinance, he said.
The county's Department of Planning and Growth Management is scheduled to present the proposed changes to the county's comprehensive land use plan at a Hillsborough County Commission workshop in February. The board could conceivably approve a new ordinance late this year.
The civic association plans to fight large-scale revisions, president Rich Dugger said. He says the ordinance is directly tied to the Keystone/Odessa Community Plan, which limits development to one home per 5 acres.
"The residents of Keystone are in no way willing to accept something that takes away the underlying foundation of our Community Plans simply because a study did not recognize it," Dugger said.
Officials, who have been meeting with consultants on a technical advisory committee, say the proposed ordinance would still include basic protections, including prohibitions on new industrial zoning and concentrated animal feeding facilities. It would restrict other activities, such as fish farms and pet cemeteries.
That didn't calm residents during a recent presentation at Keystone Park.
Said Dugger, "We have not won many battles against them taking water away from our lands so that they can develop every square inch of the tricounty area for profit, but it will stop here."
-- You can reach Josh Zimmer at 269-5314 or Zimmer@sptimes.com.
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