By CHASE SQUIRES
© St. Petersburg Times, published March 29, 2000
DADE CITY -- Citing confusion among residents and a regional water agency's vote against tightening water restrictions, city commissioners on Tuesday bucked a recent trend and voted 3-2 against cutting lawn watering from two days to one day per week.
By the split vote, commissioners rejected the city staff's move last week to cut lawn and garden irrigation. The sign posted Friday on the front door of City Hall warning of tighter restrictions will come down, City Manager Doug Drymon said after the meeting.
The vote against more water restrictions in the face of an ongoing drought left Commissioner Gregg Lynch fuming.
"I'm stunned. I think it's shockingly irresponsible," Lynch said after the meeting. "Hopefully, the citizens of this city will be more responsible."
Lynch and Mayor Charles McIntosh voted to cut watering from two days a week to one, similar to the rules enacted last week by the Pasco County Commission and on Monday by the city of Zephyrhills.
Commissioners Scott Black, Bill Dennis and Eunice Penix voted against the tighter restrictions, opting instead to follow rules established by the Southwest Regional Water Management District.
The three who voted against the new restrictions said they were concerned that the flood of new rules was leaving residents confused and instead trusted the management of the area's water resources to Swiftmud.
"As it is, I have people calling me, asking "Is it okay to water?' " Penix said. "It's confusing. There are people out there who really don't know."
Black said he would like more time to study the issue and may ask the commission to revisit the subject.
Swiftmud's governing board on Tuesday decided against tightening the districtwide water restrictions, instead choosing to ask residents to conserve voluntarily.
Under existing Swiftmud rules, which are the same rules that will remain in effect in Dade City, residents with addresses ending in even numbers may water lawns on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Residents with odd-numbered addresses may water on Sundays and Wednesdays.
In other business Tuesday, commissioners unanimously approved on first reading the annexation of a 16-acre parcel owned by Bill Nye along State Road 52.
Nye has proposed building a shopping center, anchored by a grocery store, on the land. His attorney, Karla Owens, on Tuesday told commissioners that Nye also is negotiating with regional YMCA officials to donate 5 acres on which to build a Dade City YMCA. Nye's property is across the street from the Pasco County fairgrounds and adjacent to a county park. The land he might donate to the YMCA would adjoin the county park land, Owens said.
The city's staff backs the annexation proposal.