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Thursday, Apr 19, 2018
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Pasco County may close concrete plant over zoning issue

NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco commissioners said Tuesday a concrete plant that has been operating without proper zoning may have to shut down.

Commissioners voted 4-1 to reject a change to the county’s comprehensive plan to allow businesses such as A+ Concrete, which opened three years ago in a light industrial area next to the Ashley Lakes subdivision in Odessa. The county’s zoning code only allows wet mixed concrete plants in land zoned for heavy industrial use.

Neighbors have complained about noise, vibrations, heavy truck traffic and dust.

The commissoners took the first step in shutting down the plant. They must still consider a rezoning request by the company in January.

Attorney Steven Booth said the plant operator, Rob Brue, invested more than $1.5 million on new equipment, vehicles and engineering plans for the wet mix plant — all because of the assurances he received from county staff that he could legally operate a wet mix plant at the site.

He spent thousands more in the effort to rezone the property and remedy some of the infractions.

“My client has spent an absolute fortune on this because of what the county has done,” Booth said.

Homeowner Aaron Dakoff said Brue’s investment is minimal compared to the value of the 300 affected homes in the Ashley Lakes subdivision.

“I paid $275,000 for my house seven years ago,” Dakoff said. “I can assure you the people here have invested well over $1.5 million.”

He also took exception to Booth’s description of the material that regularly escapes the boundaries of the plant. “Dust is what builds up when my children do not clean their rooms,” he said. “This is concrete. When this gets on my house or my car, it hardens and causes damage.”

Another neighbor, Janet Felts, said she was grateful that the county staff admitted they made a mistake. She suggested the county provide some financial assistance to help the company relocate.

Commissioner Kathryn Starkey agreed. “I feel that we are culpable in some way, and we should help him relocate,” she said. “I think we have some liability.”

Carol Clarke, the county’s zoning administrator, originally recommended the county rezone the site to allow A+ Concrete to add more buffers. She later urged the county to deny the rezoning.

“I don’t do this lightly,” Clarke said. “While I hate making a change in my recommendation, I hate giving you a bad recommendation more.”

Chairman Jack Mariano pointed out that Brue entered into the lease in December 2010 – two months after he learned the property wasn’t zoned for heavy industrial use.

“They have a responsibility to do their own due diligence,” Mariano said. “Buyer beware.”

The business sits just south of State Road 54 and east of Gunn Highway. It is situated at the northeastern entrance to the Ashley Lakes community. It has been cited for air quality and stormwater issues by the Department of Environmental Protection.

In September, at least a dozen members of the Ashley Lakes community attended a Development Review Committee meeting to oppose A+ Concrete’s request to change from industrial light zoning to a planned development.

The committee voted to recommend denial of the request after hearing from 10 residents who complained about the concrete-mixing company spreading dust that has infiltrated their homes and coats their cars, and noise from concrete trucks early in the morning until late at night.

The land, originally part of a 14-acre parcel, was rezoned in 1987 from an agricultural district to an agricultural-residential district. In 2003, the land was zoned as a mix of residential light and heavy industrial with certain conditions.

Those changes were made to allow that property to serve as a staging area for the widening of State Road 54.

Companies that leased the land in the past were also concrete-based businesses.

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