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Port Richey City Council approves new gas station

Mayor Eloise Taylor was the only one to vote against the station. She said the city didn't adequately examine the station's impact on the surrounding area.

By MATTHEW WAITE

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 11, 2001


PORT RICHEY -- By the end of Tuesday night's City Council meeting, council members were fidgeting, sighing and getting tired. All this over a gas station.

The council had just spent more than an hour talking about road capacity, level of service designations, traffic counts, drainage requirements, state regulations and comprehensive plans.The council gave its approval to a new Hess gas station at the southwest corner of Grand Boulevard and U.S. 19, but how they got to that 4-1 vote sparked criticism from the mayor on how the city handles planning and zoning matters.

The station's request to allow building was tabled at the council's Dec. 12 meeting when questions arose about traffic studies. On Tuesday, after more than an hour of questions about similar traffic studies, council member Phyllis Grae tried to call for a vote.

But Mayor Eloise Taylor, in the middle of questioning the station's traffic engineer, refused to recognize her.

Taylor was the only vote against the station, and she said she voted against it because she felt the city failed to adequately look at the impact the station would have on the surrounding area. She said the procedure leading up to the vote was inadequate.

"I think the city needs to be more mindful of making the applicant provide data before they come to council," Taylor said.

Grae took umbrage, saying Taylor's rebuke made it sound as if the other council members hadn't thought about their vote.

Taylor said the criticism wasn't aimed at the council, but was meant constructively for city staff. She said that because the city has such a small staff, it needed to use experts from the city and the county to help make good decisions.

City Manager Vince Lupo said he recognized that city staff had to provide the council with good information.

"I'll make every effort to reach outside of our staff to provide materials you all need to make decisions," he said.

In other council business Tuesday night, Lupo announced that bids to build the new city hall on Ridge Road would go out this weekend.

"We're off and running," he said.

City Hall has been in the Custom Commerce Center at Ridge Road and Congress Street since April. City officials have said they hope to be in the new city hall by this fall.

-- Matthew Waite can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6247 or (800) 333-7505, ext. 6247. His e-mail address is waite@sptimes.com.

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