By JULIE B. MAGLIO
The Hernando County Board of County Commissioners gave their approval to submit a release of land request to the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) for an 18 acre site at the Brooksville Tampa Bay Regional airport on Tuesday Dec. 17, 2019. The county would like to consider the site as a location for a new government center. Plans show a 104,000 square foot one story building situated on the property with a large parking area. In order for any construction to occur on the site, the FAA will need to release the property as there are currently federal deed restrictions limiting its usage to aviation purposes.
On Dec. 17, 2019, Chairman Holcomb began the discussion on the land release request to the FAA with the following statement:
“I saw something on social media.”
John Allocco interjected,
“It must have been true.”
Holcomb remarked, “It was. It was.”
“It was a Hernando Sun article saying that we just want to spend money. So let’s correct the record and say the courthouse- the courts- they do not want us here anymore….”
The article Chairman Holcomb refers to can be found here.
The Hernando Sun has not as of yet corrected the record, as it is unclear where in the article the opinion was expressed that the county just wants to spend money.
Following the introduction by Chairman Holcomb, County Administrator Jeff Rogers gave some information about the proposed government center.
“As the county continues to grow in population and needs, the same process the citizens our court system continually has to provide a due process in a timely manner for anybody that needs to have trial hearings so there is also an increase in demand for the court systems… It’s not a new idea, I think the county’s talked about this maybe for ten, fifteen years- lots of studies….” stated Rogers.
He explained that they were considering the Pinebrook building and the property. They are now working with the VA for them to purchase the building from the county for a long term VA clinic which they’d like to expand. This will increase the services for area veterans. The Pinebrook VA project will be coming before the commission at a later date.
“At this point you’re not approving any funding for a building. We’re just trying to get the land… and come back and discuss the exact details of the building. The building would be over 100,000 square feet and would accommodate county departments along with tax collector, property appraiser, constitutional offices, a portion of the clerks department, finance department that works very closely with us… Along with EOC… and Supervisor of Elections. ”
A conceptual site plan shows office space at 91,000 square feet and warehouse space at 13,000 square feet. The building will be constructed with the possibility of erecting a second story with future growth. It cannot go higher than 2 stories so as not to obstruct the flight path.
Champion remarked that they have the money to purchase the property and purchasing the land is setting us up for the long term plan to build the government center. He continued, “But we do not have the money to build the building right now.”
Rogers remarked, “Yes correct. Currently you have impact fees that have previously been paid… for the actual long term funding of the government building. We talked a lot about that in the budget process last year and the forecast modeling we’ll do again in this budget process will show us how we are going to fund that building in the future.”
Champion remarked that it’s probably the best location he’s seen so far for the government center.
He also remarked that they could potentially use the revenues from the sale of the Pinebrook building to fund some of the construction.
Champion stated, “I don’t want to go raising taxes and all the other stuff to fund this thing. We’re going to have to get creative on how to build the building…”
“If the property is able to be carved out from the airport, I think it makes sense. No matter where we build I’m going to push for us to… make sure that a second story can be built on there… we need to be able to prepare this building as well for future expansion,” Commissioner Allocco stated.
Commissioner Mitten remarked, “I like this idea. I think it’s a great location. It’s a great place to put it for economic development.”
County Administrator Rogers said that the $1.7 million paid for the property will go into economic development at the airport.
Holcomb added that it is the cheapest property that they’ve looked at, “But we’ll be criticized anyway.”
Commissioners unanimously approved the motion to submit a land release request to the FAA.