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County Targets Land Buy For Flood Control

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Hernando County will spend more than $30,000 to purchase a parcel of land on Josephine Street that county officials hope will help alleviate flooding in the South Brooksville area. The Hernando Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) approved the purchase during its regular meeting on Oct. 24.

During that meeting, County Public Works Director Scott Herring told members of the Board that his department was seeking their authorization to purchase a 2.09-acre land parcel on Josephine Street in Brooksville for $35,000.

“The parcel will be used for flood mitigation,” he said. “Funding is available for acquisition and closing costs.”

If, after its acquisition, the parcel proves inappropriate for flood mitigation use, it will be made available for use by other county departments. “It has the potential for (use in flood mitigation), but we’ve got to look at it in conjunction with some other things,” Herring told the BOCC. “If not, then it would go through our surplus lands procedure, or it could be used for affordable housing or it could be offered to other departments – if it was offered to another department, they would then reimburse stormwater management for that.”

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County Board Chairman John Allocco said that he became aware of the Josephine Street parcel when a community resident who is also a Realtor contacted him.

“I had someone reach out to me and I looked at the property and did some research on it and realized that this is something we could probably use in DPW and so I passed that on to the DPW director and staff,” Allocco told the panel. “I receive nothing for this – there’s no commission that comes my way.”

The county has actively sought to acquire the property in South Brooksville that will create the easements necessary to mitigate flooding issues in that area.

“This is how you deal with flooding issues – you buy land that can be used to help,” Allocco said. “We’re trying to find solutions and you’ve got to have land to deal with it.”

Still, flooding in the area continues to be a concern for those who reside there, including those on Twigg and Easy streets. “I’m very concerned,” Pastor Clarence Greene of the Bethlehem Baptist Church told the panel.

In response, Herring said that the county is working on easements in that area. “We’re working on some easements that we need to clean in between Twigg and Easy… Also we’re finalizing our review of the South Brooksville Stormwater study to see if there are any improvements that are feasible to be made out there to alleviate flooding.”

The South Brooksville Drainage Study is examining ways to improve drainage in South Brooksville, to clean up existing county properties and identify best practices for alleviating flooding in the area altogether.

Following that review, Herring said that he would discuss findings with the county administration, present them to the BOCC and then to TRAC, a subcommittee of the Community Conversations organization, which was established to promote community improvement conversations between residents and county officials.

The BOCC lent its approval of the purchase after Commissioner Steve Champion made a motion to authorize it and Commissioner Brian Hawkins seconded it.

The BOCC approved the purchase by a vote of 5-0.

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