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Builder wants upgrade delay
Southern Hills' developer now wants to begin sewage plant improvements in 2010.
By DAN DeWITT, Times Staff Writer
Published November 17, 2007
BROOKSVILLE - Citing the stagnant housing market, the developer of Southern Hills Plantation has asked for three more years to begin its planned improvements to the city of Brooksville's sewage treatment plant.
The developer, LandMar Group LLC of Jacksonville, has agreed to pay most of the nearly $9-million - much of which will be reimbursed by impact fee breaks - needed to make the improvements. These include doubling the size of the plant and upgrading the treatment so the wastewater can be used to irrigate Southern Hills' golf course.
Work was supposed to begin Oct. 31. The developer has asked instead that it begin Oct. 31, 2010, because of "the current and projected economic conditions in the near future relating to the housing market," Tom Mountain, senior vice president of Coastal Engineering Associates, wrote to the city on behalf of LandMar.
The City Council will consider the request at its meeting Monday night.
City Manager Jennene Norman-Vacha said this week that the city does not now need a larger treatment plant because the current facility is operating at about half of its capacity of 1.9-million gallons per day.
The extra capacity was to have been needed for expected population growth in the city, including growth at Southern Hills. But development of Southern Hills has been far slower than expected.
The city, Norman-Vacha said, does not have to pay its share of the cost of the improvements, or $2.6-million, until the work is completed. "We're not at a critical level," Norman-Vacha said.
But the delay, if granted, will mean the city will have to wait longer to sell treated wastewater. The city is "anxious to get in the water reclamation business," she said.
That will not happen for some time, said Emory Pierce, the city's public works director. The city's agreement with LandMar gives the developer the right to use the first 1-million gallons of treated wastewater per day. The city can sell any amount above that, but that water will not be available until the area develops further, Pierce said.
Until the project is completed, he said, the city must continue to pay about $40,000 per year to dispose of its treated wastewater at the Florida Crushed Stone mine northwest of Brooksville.
The water reclamation improvements, which will cost about $2-million, face one financial uncertainty: The Southwest Florida Water Management District, or Swiftmud, has agreed to $500,000 in matching funds for the work, Pierce said.
That money may not be available in three years, Norman-Vacha said.
And because the state Legislature cut funding for alternative water projects during last month's special session, the district must identify projects that will receive either no money or less money, said Swiftmud spokeswoman Robyn Hanke.
It has not been determined if the Brooksville plant will be on that list.
Staff writer Barbara Behrendt contributed to this report. Dan DeWitt can be reached at email@example.com (352) 754-6116.
Monday night, the Brooksville City Council will consider the delay request from LandMar Group LLC of Jacksonville. Tom Mountain, speaking for LandMar, wrote that economic issues tied to the housing marking have necessitated a delay of improvements at the city's sewage treatment plant. The developer asked that the improvements begin Oct. 31, 2010.