Let's beware of Chocachatti steamroller

Letters to the Editor
Published April 22, 2005

Re: April 12 School Board workshop meeting regarding Chocachatti Elementary School.

I was glad to see some of our board members had the courage to stand up to the Chocachatti steamroller. Why is it necessary for the principal of that school to bring an entourage to each meeting of the board? Could it be the intimidation factor? It already was suggested by at least one board member that these displays were counterproductive.

After much discussion, it appears that Chocachatti will have 920 students. I suppose this is reasonable and will calm some of the anger in the community. It is unfortunate that principal Michael Tellone felt he had to dispute some of the board members' recollections of their discussion about the number of students being added to the school. This arrogance is a quality that disturbs me.

It also seems that board member John Druzbick, who has rubber-stamped many of the superintendent's proposals, decided to change position and increase enrollment at Chocachatti. It is amazing what public opinion can do for one's conscience.

I applaud board member Sandra Nicholson's idea to move Chocachatti to a vacant retail store or other appropriate venue to accommodate a smaller student population. My advice to her is beware of the steamroller.

-- Kenneth Bonfield, Brooksville

Developer makes ludicrous offer to Silverthorn residents

I live in Silverthorn, a private community, and a developer is trying to take part of my home. On March 31, Rick Suggs, president of Premier Building group, came into our community and made a take-it-or-leave-it offer to the homeowners. He said, "You can either accept my offer or reject it." He acknowledged in a meeting with the homeowners of Silverthorn that the homeowners have a right to reject his offer, but cautioned that something else would be built next to us if we did not fall into line and accept his offer.

His offer was ludicrous. Although he and his backers, including Silverthorn Associates and Silverthorn Hills (current owners of the Silverthorn Golf Club), stand to make millions of dollars in windfall profits if this development is successful, Mr. Suggs offered the Silverthorn homeowners essentially nothing for access and full use of all of our facilities. He wants to add 20 percent more homes to our community. These homes would overpower our small residential streets and overwhelm our community facilities. Additionally, he is unwilling to pay anything for the infrastructure we all paid for when we purchased our properties.

Mr. Suggs noted that he would build a small exercise facility, but that he was sorry that only his new homes and members of Silverthorn country club would be able to use it. It would be closed to the rest of the community. He then stated that the new homes would not be paying any monthly assessments until they were sold. This is contrary to our past and current practice in our community. Builders, individuals and all lot owners pay their fair share of our common community costs. Mr. Suggs said "that was not his offer."

Well, an overwhelming majority of our residents rejected his offer.

Mr. Suggs then hired a local engineering group, Coastal Engineering, represented by Don Lacey, to try to get the Hernando County Planning and Zoning Commission to rezone his property. When the presentation was made to planning and zoning officials on April 11, Mr. Suggs said that what he had prepared for them to review was not really what he wanted to do. He did the same thing in the presentation to the Silverthorn homeowners (with a different presentation). He tore up his proposal in front of the Planning and Zoning Commission, as he did at the homeowners meeting.

Mr. Suggs then told planning officials that he and his backers have the right to enter our property and take it, whether the owners like it or not, and that he would come back in June with a new proposal.

Silverthorn homeowners disagree, and believe his claim has no merit. Mr. Suggs would very much like to get the Hernando County Planning and Zoning Commission to acknowledge his legitimacy by approving his rezoning request - even contingent on his having access to Silverthorn.

Members of the Planning and Zoning Commission should understand that we do not believe he has that access. We hope the commission takes no action to rezone property next to our community unless that rezoned property meets all requirements for rezoning - without assuming access or potential access to our property.

-- Kenneth Mackey, Spring Hill