My 2023 brain is just about zapped. Some odds and ends on the final Thursday of this year:
— There was no Citrus County “story of the year” in 2023. However, if there is a “buzz of the year,” it would definitely be growth and zoning.
Zoning battlegrounds have existed since Adam and Eve tried to make Eden snake-friendly. Anytime a landowner wants to do something that runs counter to the neighbors’ way of thinking, conflict arises.
This year, though, felt different. The zoning cases seemed much more personal, more telling about our current circumstances of being in a mild panic with each new store, house, and packed intersection.
Folks in Sugarmill Woods, Ozello, and Pine Ridge aren’t simply arguing against more houses, RVs, or condos. It’s the feeling that our Citrus County way of life is altering, and not in a good way.
(Oddly, a lot of these arguments come from people who are new to Citrus County the last two years. Everyone gets a say, but even I’ll acknowledge we hear a lot of “our quality of life” statements coming from people who still haven’t mastered the county’s road system.)
I’m not sure it’s entirely fair to assume every developer looking for a zoning change wants to make a quick buck on the backs of unsuspecting Citrus Countians.
Yes of course developers are in it for the money. But most also want quality projects, and those are the developers we should be encouraging. I mean…are we seriously going to vote down every single zoning change simply if it adds density or traffic to the books?
That approach may pacify the no-growth crowd, but it makes for terrible public policy. We should encourage smart, sensible development.
Expect to read, write and hear A TON about zoning/growth in 2024.
— Speaking of sticking it to the locals, I had to laugh when reading Mike Bates’ lead story in Wednesday’s Chronicle about the “Chick-fil-A” developer delaying the planning commission hearing, and blaming the county staff.
It’s the holidays, so I’m not going to detail all the reasons…but, this zoning case in Lecanto is turning into Exhibit A of why the county government should scrutinize every single development plan that requires a land-use change.
I’m not familiar with this developer. As far as I recall, we haven’t met. He may be a whiz at developing Chick-fil-A’s, car washes, storage units and that sort of thing. But, man, he’s apparently clueless about Citrus County politics, and now he has three commissioners just looking for a reason to say no.
Every big issue needs a lightning rod. Congrats, Tidal Wave, you’re it.
— Here’s another lightning rod issue: Inverness Villages 4. We dedicated at least seven or eight blogs this year to the road/drainage mess in IV 4, and for a reason.
Community. We all have a stake in what happens in Inverness Villages 4, and how the County Commission handles this annoying problem in 2024 will say a lot about their leadership.
I sure don’t have the answers, but I have an idea how to get them. We keep the conversation alive and on the front page so to speak. In the last two weeks, IV 4 residents were interviewed for Tampa Bay TV news stories. That’s exposure those folks need.
I’ll get into this more next year, but the neighbors are starting to ask the county well-researched questions that deserve thorough answers.
It’s not big-ticket. Not a winner on the campaign trail. And I realize most folks throughout the county say residents who bought houses on sand roads deserve much of their headaches.
I have a different approach. It comes from the experience of another Citrus County community uprising against local government, and how those neighbors went about being successful in their endeavors. The political side of this has been covered before.
Plus, what’s happening in IV 4 just isn’t right. These are not private roads. If they were, the residents would get together and find a cheap, easy solution.
They are public roads, and this is going to need an out-of-the-box public solution. Expect to read plenty about Inverness Villages 4 in 2024 at Just Wright Citrus.
---Well, I’m about toast, and the Wednesday night internet pretty much went on strike, sending us to the McDonalds parking lot. For those reasons, we’re light on editing today and no links.
Please excuse the dust. Have a great Thursday, friends.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.