It’s Round One of the Pine Ridge Golf Club Classic.
A developer’s request to change the Pine Ridge master plan to allow 85 homes on what is now a closed golf course has the community rather riled.
I’ve been reading emails to county commissioners the last few weeks from Pine Ridge residents who are unified in their opposition. The master plan says the golf course is set aside for recreation, not houses, and they want it kept that way.
While the County Commission makes the final call, the first stop is today’s Planning and Development Commission meeting in Lecanto that starts at 9 a.m.
We don’t talk about the PDC much so now’s as good a time as any.
First off, PDC members are volunteers. They are not elected. They’re not paid. Be nice to them. Seriously.
It’s not what I’d call a politically connected board; it works in relative anonymity. I’m familiar with only a few names myself. That said, you’ll recognize the chairwoman: Stacey Worthington, whose PDC experience didn’t resonate with voters on the 2022 campaign trial for County Commission District 2 (which surprised me, frankly).
Stacey, and her PDC chair predecessors, oversee well-run meetings. Everyone has his or her say. Each board member is well prepared as is the staff.
Planning board members have an incredibly complicated job. You should read these reports. The Pine Ridge Golf Course agenda item has 26 attachments. Fifteen of those are public input. Based on that reaction alone, I’m expecting a roomful at least.
(Sidenote: The PDC does have the final say in some situations: variances and special exceptions. I remember years ago the planning board approving a helicopter pad in some guy’s yard on Mason Creek in Homosassa. That was interesting.)
I mentioned PDC members are generally not politically connected. PDC meetings never have a political overtone about them. These people mean business. They pay close attention to the planning staff and attorney and are serious about their commitment.
The PDC is a fact-finding board and darn good at it. PDC hearings are thorough; not everyone likes the outcome but, in my experience, no significant detail goes untouched.
PDC members take a personal interest in each project on the agenda. They listen to each side and try to follow the letter of the law in rendering their decision.
Though it’s a recommendation, a PDC vote carries significant public weight. Everyone wants to walk out of that room happy.
So a lot goes into this meeting.
Now. I’m not going to dive into this today, but the County Commission doesn’t always agree with the PDC. Especially recently. The PDC said yes to Sugarmill apartments, the County Commission said no. The PDC said no to Meadowcrest apartments, the County Commission said yes (though, as Chronicle reporter Mike Bates pointed out, it isn’t working out as planned).
The PDC also said no to the Ozello glampground but before it could get to the County Commission for a final vote, the owner resubmitted a scaled down version that the PDC voted down again. It goes to the County Commission in August. And, yes, Ozello residents are all over it.
These folks have a tough, tough job. They need to balance the technical aspects of a master plan with pleas from residents about property values. And line all that up with land-use law.
County commissioners do the same thing but they’re elected by voters and paid for it. It’s a totally different level of responsibility and so the entire process is much more formal. The final vote has an air of importance.
First, though, the PDC. Time to tee it up, Pine Ridge.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.