Happy Tuesday! For no reason other than it’s Tuesday, I present two topics from Monday’s information-gathering:
— The county happily issued a press release that the state has given permission for it to bid out the 1.9-mile C.R. 491 widening project in Lecanto.
State approval is necessary because it’s funding $13 million toward the project. Once the county chooses a bidder, the state will have to OK that as well.
County commissioners are counting on this project breaking ground before the year runs out. The two-lane stretch represents a significant traffic pinch point, and the fact that the Target shopping center will be built before this section is widened is a testament to poor government planning.
The schedule is tight. If all goes as planned, the county commission will award a bid at its Oct. 10 meeting. That gives the contractor two months to get moving.
I don’t want to be a sourpuss because this really is a significant deal. We can’t progress with other road needs — the next immediate step is widening C.R. 491 north of Beverly Hills — until this one is done.
But being happy about going to bid on 491 is like getting an A on the term paper that was due three weeks ago. That’s great…but…aren’t we a little late?
It’s a mystery why this project didn’t happen five years ago. I write about the county government for a living and I can’t explain it. We had the money, a big state appropriation — and then inexplicably the county stopped the right-of-way process until last year.
All sorts of questionable decisions took place in the last decade because this section of 491 between S.R. 44 and C.R. 486 was still two lanes. We’ll have a parkway interchange at 486 because of a two-lane 491. The Ottawa Avenue debacle is a direct result of commissioners ignoring a bigger 491 issue in exchange for a quick, expensive and useless fix.
I hope history doesn’t repeat itself. We need real transportation planning conducted by people who know what they’re doing to give us a clear direction of what we’re facing. Because right now we haven’t a clue. Not a single clue.
— As I reported Monday on Facebook, the Fishcreek Glampground rezoning case in Ozello is being delayed after the owner resubmitted a different plan.
It was meant to be heard by the county commission on April 24. Now the new plan goes to the planning commission on May 18 and the county commission sometime after that.
The new plan is less intensive than the current one, or so says the applicant’s attorney, Clark Stillwell. I breezed through his email to the county because the details are not all that significant to me at the moment.
Here’s why: Residents have several reasons for their opposition and this new proposal answers some of those. The one it doesn’t answer, though, is the zoning change itself. A fairly significant concern in Ozello is once the county OKs one rezoning for a glampground, that opens the door for others.
Going back to my initial point a month ago. This is Ozello. Not every community has an Ozello. We are quite fortunate. Whatever we do here should be held in the same regard as the Orange Avenue Oaks in Floral City, the working waterfront of Homosassa, and the Chassahowitzka boat ramp.
I don’t know if this project is as good as the chamber president says or as bad as the residents say, or somewhere in the middle.
It comes down to this: Does the glampground project have any real potential of harming a single hair on Ozello’s head? That’s really all I want to know. We’ll see how that question is answered as this new phase is aired out.
By the way — I’m serious about this — if you haven’t driven Ozello Trail to the county boat ramp at the Pirates Cove property, for gosh sake go do that. Citrus County residents owe it to themselves to view our very best.
Ozello? It’s right up there.
Join the discussion on our Facebook page.
Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.