One of the joys of self-employment is the ability to mow my yard on a work day.
I wrote a Florida Politics story and then finished the blog early so I could spend two hours in the early evening working off my Hostess Cupcakes. The rider’s on the fritz; it’s push mower time and those two hours are quite a workout in the July heat.
Sitting here Wednesday night at the Just Wright Citrus World Headquarters desk, I enjoyed the aroma of a freshly mowed yard.
That’s a long way around the farm to reach a series of totally unrelated points:
— Had an interesting chat with Joanna Coutu, the county director of land development, regarding the Pine Ridge Golf Club case.
Turns out I erroneously called it a zoning change when it's actually a proposed change to the Pine Ridge master plan. When I suggested, isn’t that really the zoning for Pine Ridge, Joanna said it’s totally different.
For example, I and several Pine Ridge residents pointed out that the developer of a proposed 85 homes on what is now a closed golf course is asking the county to redesignate the land from recreational to residential mixed-use for “Pine Ridge Reserve.”
In zoning terms, “residential mixed-use” is a euphemism for apartments these days. But that’s not what it means here.
Joanna explained that all of Pine Ridge is “residential mixed-use” on the master plan with few exceptions, the golf course being one of them. This would only align the golf course property with all the other residential property in Pine Ridge on the master plan.
The developer’s proposal for 85 houses is exactly that. Anything else would require another county commission vote.
Thanks to Joanna for setting me straight. (Hope I didn't botch the correction.)
The Planning and Development Commission hears it on July 20, then the County Commission sometime after that. This is going to be a good one.
— Very cool: Catherine Schlabach, second lieutenant in the U.S. Space Force, led the Pledge of Allegiance at Tuesday’s meeting. Catherine is the daughter of Commission Chairman Ruthie Davis Schlabach, who was absent Tuesday as she recovers from breast cancer surgery.
Catherine, a graduate of Georgia Tech, is a developmental engineer for the Space Force. What a proud moment for our community.
— There will be no special scalloping promotion. Not only did commissioners unanimously vote down a $27,000 scalloping campaign, they said the focus should be on reseeding bay scallops to strengthen the species.
Commissioners don’t spend a lot of time discussing tourist strategy — after all, they have a volunteer board to do that — but there’s talk of moving the tourism emphasis off the coastal waters and onto something…else.
I’ve heard this before and again on Tuesday: What happens to our tourism economy if we get a dose of red tide?
It’s a good conversation to have. We talked about this a little the other day — when does Citrus County’s tourism marketing start to create a burden on the locals? Simply inviting everyone to Crystal River and Homosassa every July for scalloping is not a plan.
That said, I heard a very good point Wednesday during the Tourist Development Council meeting. Before we had scallop season, it was deader than dead around here in July and August. Local businesses closed up for the summer and hotel rooms stayed dark.
Scallop season brings life to the Nature Coast at a time of year when few people have any other reason to vacation in Florida.
Good to keep that in mind. It’s not the same as in winter when Crystal River is crawling with tourists. Scallops are an interesting little engine that fuels our economy at its slowest point.
— Some folks wanted to know the discipline process for John Pricher, the tourism director who is on administrative leave with a recommendation from County Administrator Steve Howard for dismissal. You can read all about it here and here.
Even though Pricher reports to the administrator, the job isn’t on the same level as a department director who works at the administrator’s pleasure and can be dismissed at any time.
In Pricher's case, the county’s HR policy allows the administrator to recommend termination but a hearing officer to decide. Interesting that the hearing officer is a department director — someone who works directly for the administrator.
It could be any department director but, in this case, it's Water Resources Director Ken Cheek.
That’s our government report for Thursday. And the yard looks great, thank you.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.