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Letters to the Editors

Bonds would force businesses to take more responsibility

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 6, 2001

Editor: Re: New Wal-Mart is a huge mistake, April 29 letter to the editor.

James Rosenquist laments the fact that many of our strip malls are anchored by a large store, which, when that large store goes bankrupt or moves, leaves the strip mall a vast wasteland.

I could not agree more.

However, I think there is a solution but doubt our commissioners will embrace it simply because it makes sense.

I propose that before any new commercial building is constructed in this county that the prospective builder, or its corporate lawyers, puts up an insurance bond (with no expiration date) of value high enough to guarantee that should that new store go bankrupt, move, etc., then the bond would kick in. It would cover the full cost of the building to be torn down, the asphalt and concrete removed, and the area restored to its natural state with large, old-growth trees planted along with newer trees so as to give the appearance of never having been disturbed.

If the vacated store cannot be torn down for whatever reason, such as being attached to another, then another bond would need to be taken out to ensure a continued revenue stream to the county for that affected location for full tax value of the store, as if it were operating profitably. If no taxes are being paid because of some cozy arrangement incentive for business, that agreement would be null and void and the full tax value will apply and be retroactive for three years, plus all future years, until another owner or renter takes over, after which that organization picks up a similar bond or insurance policy to keep it from happening again.

After all, taxpayers will be stuck with the fire, rescue, utility and maintenance cost of the eyesore.

This has been implemented in other areas of the country and deters companies from snatch, grab and destroy tactics, insofar as our habitats are concerned.

Lest anyone think otherwise, I am a firm believer in capitalism and free enterprise. But I also believe in the obligations a business has to a community to not leave said community raped and pillaged when it leaves.

You will get a lot of resistance in this effort and some will even go so far as to tell you they make good-faith efforts to get other stores into those empty locations. If that is so, why the old, empty Winn-Dixie on Spring Hill Drive, why the empty Food Lion on Northcliffe, etc.? Go to Brooksville for more examples.

Hernando is a high-growth area, attractive, peaceful and full of eager-to-spend people. I'm not so sure we need opposing Winn-Dixies and Kash n' Karrys or opposing Eckerd's and Walgreens on every corner. But if these businesses want to get in here and do that, this will be part of their cost of doing business.
-- Vilmar Tavares, Spring Hill

Fasano's criticism is out of line

Editor: Re: Aquifer storage plan innovative, not reckless, April 27 letter to the editor from state House Majority Whip Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey.

First, the Times would have shirked its duty to the people had it not addressed the issue of pumping untreated water into the aquifer. A politician's statement of "unsubstantiated claims by unqualified people" would imply a dissent with the people's right to have an opinion on a matter that not only affects the environment, but also our health. That right is inalienable no matter how unqualified he deems us to be.

We are surrounded by mistakes that can only be laid at the feet of politicians and scientists. The Everglades, which Fasano mentions, is a gigantic flaw in the experts' plans to control nature. It began with the flood-control system built to control flooding by Lake Okeechobee when we were hit almost yearly by hurricanes, then the encroachment of sugar cane farming, and more recently other farms and orange groves.

What proven technology does Fasano point to? Is it the fact some counties have used the program? I've read of two or three counties that employ the ASR program. However, it was indicated that they cleaned the water, then pumped it into the aquifer.

I don't agree with the program, but my dissent here is primarily addressed to a politician in faulting the Times and the electorate for being in opposition to something directly impacting our lives.
-- Albert Johnson, Beverly Hills

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The Hernando Times welcomes letters from readers for publication.

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