tampabay.com

Will golf carts soon share the roads?

By TIMES WIRES
Published May 24, 2007


HIGHLAND LAKES

The background: Golf carts generally are illegal on most public roads. In 2005, the County Commission okayed golf cart traffic in Ozona and Crystal Beach, making them the first communities in Pinellas to have the special golf-cart designation. In Highland Lakes, residents want golf carts allowed everywhere. But county officials worry that Highlands Boulevard - the neighborhood's main road - is too busy. There also was talk of a road designated just for golf carts, but that could cost more than $1-million and take 10 years.

Under a plan worked on by residents and county officials, residents could drive golf carts to and from the clubhouse on MacGregor Drive. The carts could go on Highlands Boulevard, but officials would install signs warning motorists about them. Golf carts would have to have a reflective red warning device, an orange warning flag and a sign saying "slow-moving vehicle." The carts could be driven only from sunrise to sunset and would have to be driven by licensed drivers. "We feel like we've earned the right and we've demonstrated that we follow all the rules and we're responsible, " said Linda Brown, chairwoman of the neighborhood's golf cart committee.

Commissioners will consider the plan on June 5.

If they approve, the next step would be to hold a public hearing on an ordinance approving the signs. 

TARPON SPRINGS

Wal-Mart refuses wetlands survey

Five months after the City Commission said it would ask Wal-Mart to allow a third-party wetlands survey of its building site near the Anclote River, the retail giant has said no.

Wal-Mart, in a letter to the city last week, stated that the amount of wetlands on the property had already been determined by Lotspeich and Associates Inc., "a well-respected environmental consultant with extensive experience with wetlands delineations, " and confirmed by the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

The request for a new survey came after Friends of the Anclote River highlighted discrepancies of wetland acreage in Wal-Mart's development agreement - 33.5 acres - and the eventual site plan - 28.1 acres.

BROOKSVILLE

Nighttime fire destroys auto trim business

Investigators say a malfunctioning air handler sparked a fire that swept quickly through a metal building in the Airport Industrial Park late Tuesday night and destroyed a Brooksville business that manufactured and distributed custom auto graphics.

According to Chief Mike Nickerson, Hernando County Fire Rescue firefighters arrived at the manufacturing headquarters of Auto Trim Express at 16110 Flight Path Drive shortly after 11 p.m. and found the metal building engulfed in flames. No one was inside the building.

LAND O'LAKES

School workers may face shelter duty

Before Pasco school employees left for summer break Wednesday, superintendent Heather Fiorentino sent out a memo reminding them that, in the event of a hurricane, they could be called into service at the shelters that the district operates.

The United School Employees of Pasco said it was ready to file an unfair labor practice charge against Fiorentino if she made such a "unilateral change in the terms and conditions of employment."

ST. PETERSBURG

Property tax forum draws a full house

Four lawmakers got an earful Wednesday from a standing room only town hall meeting organized to get input from communities about proposals to reduce property taxes.

The two-hour forum at the Sunshine Center drew a crowd of 175. In the end, the comments were much the same as lawmakers have been hearing for months.

"I didn't hear the silver bullet tonight, " said Sen. Charlie Justice, D-St. Petersburg.

LARGO

Political clash sparks an inquiry

There was a meeting, an ultimatum and a threat, says City Commissioner Rodney Woods.

And now there's a criminal investigation.

The Largo Police Department is looking into whether Woods was urged to resign and threatened during a one-on-one meeting with civic activist Curtis Holmes more than six weeks ago.

Holmes said Wednesday that the meeting never took place and he did not threaten Woods.