Taking a breather from red lights
My brain is full from a week of politics so here are three randomly separate blog topics that I may or may not expand on someday:
— Random thought No. 1: Isn’t that a cool photo (Just Wright Citrus standards) from today’s blog of the Chassahowitzka River? Chazz is an awesome community, tucked away in the county’s southwest corner — serene, quiet, unassuming.
Chassahowitzka doesn’t get much press and I’m sure that’s how the folks there prefer it. I will say this though: As Citrus County experiences growth, Chassahowitzka remains one of the true escapes. There aren’t too many places within Citrus County that offer sincere, “this is how we are,” way of life.
It’s old Florida. A place deserving of respect and protection.
So it’s a real shock to the senses when, after taking that leisurely drive, I come around a little bend on Miss Maggie Drive and — WHAM! — it’s urban Florida awaiting at U.S. 19. That intersection is everything to dislike about our state — commercial ugliness dressed up in nice shiny new colors.
Don't get me wrong. I frequent Publix and McDonalds like everyone else. And maybe any other intersection wouldn't be so striking.
What a contrast. I can’t think of a less Chassahowitzka-looking environment than the one right outside their own community. It’s almost like being snapped back to life after a day in hiding.
Both have their roles. I like the yo-yo cookies at Publix. I enjoy driving through Chassahowitzka. Get the picture?
— Random thought No. 2: I didn’t forget about the Commission Email Thursday. We bumped it a day for the Rebecca Bays stuff, and I’m bumping it again because of an email I saw that led to a question that hasn’t yet been answered.
But there was one email about an ages-old problem: Junky neighborhood yards and the lack of code enforcement.
I lost count how many stories I wrote at the Chronicle about code enforcement or, as the county calls it, code compliance. They all have a very similar theme: Someone has junk in the yard, won’t do anything about it. Neighbor complains to the county.
If it goes well, and mostly it will, the junk goes away. But in about 10% of the time, code compliance’s involvement does nothing but pile up paperwork, threats of liens and, on rare occasions, a visit before the judge.
Meanwhile, the junk stays there or gets worse.
The law requires due process, which means giving the offending party a lot of time in complying. Former Commissioner Brian Coleman pushed for site-specific solutions and was successful at it, getting dilapidated houses mowed down and owners threatened with jail if they didn’t clean up property.
But that doesn’t happen all that often. More often, violators who want to thumb their nose at this system do so at the community’s peril. Neighbors fume, and who can blame them?
There’s got to be a way to make this easier. Does every county in Florida deal with neighborhood slobs in the same manner?
I don’t have a solution that checks all the boxes. If someone does, let’s hear it.
— Random thought No. 3: The traffic signals in this county are making me crazy. It’s not the number of them or where they’re located. There just doesn’t seem to be any timing and it’s causing ridiculous backups.
Driving through Inverness on Main Street any given morning looks like this: Red light at Apopka. Red light at Seminole. Green light (yay!) at Line. Red light at 41. Traffic backing up more and more each time. Takes 10 minutes to drive two miles.
And don’t get me started about the stopping at the red light on 41 at Montgomery and again right up the road at the shopping center to allow for one car leaving Planet Fitness.
Not picking on Inverness. I find the same situation on U.S. 19 in Crystal River. And C.R. 491 in Beverly Hills. And C.R. 486 in Citrus Hills. Red turns green. Drive a quarter-mile to another red. Then another. Is this the way it’s supposed to work?
Seriously, when’s the last time we took a good look at whether these signals are talking to each other? I mean…obviously growth will bring more traffic. But we spend a lot of time backed up at red lights on these major roads, and all I’m suggesting is people who know what they’re doing should take a look at that.
Enjoy this beautiful Citrus County Friday, friends, and take it easy on the roads. There’s a lot more of us out there than ever before.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 35 years.