At the regular Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) meeting on October 27, 2020, the board voted to approve a rezoning petition by Tommy Evans of Sport Fisherman’s Landing Inc from CM-1 to PDP-CM2 with specific deviations, which will allow the business to continue operations while complying with conditions set forth during the meeting.
Located at the southwest corner of the intersection of Calienta Street and Gulf Coast Drive, the business has been used for commercial fishing, crabbing and shrimping operations, with vessels exceeding 26’, which would usually require a CM-2 designation. A lengthy history of the property includes the granting of non-conforming use exception to the original owner of the property in 1989.
In 2019, the nonconforming use was recinded, and Evans began accruing code enforcement fines. The board voted 3-2 on Dec. 17, 2019 to deny Evans’ request to reinstate the nonconforming use designation.
Evans, with his attorney Jake Cremer of the Stearns Weaver law firm addressed the board with a fresh set of conditions for consideration.
The conditions approved by the BOCC during this meeting were:
-- A maximum of 6 total boats in wet slips, with 2 commercial boats greater than 26 feet, but less than 40 feet (all other boats must comply with current CM-1) regulations.
-- Limited hours of operation from 6:00 am until 7:00 pm - 4 days per week except for the first 30 days of crabbing season, which will be 6 days per week.
-- Setbacks limited to: Front/North (35’), Front/East (35’), Rear/Canal (15’) and Side/South (20’)
-- Outdoor storage not to exceed 6’ in height (as shown in blue shaded area on site plan)
-- Fencing of 8 feet in height with 100% opacity
-- Pickup / Delivery traffic limited to pickup trucks and / or vans
-- No solid waste discharge into waterway
-- All processing activities will occur within the building
-- No shrimping allowed
-- Land support activities limited to owner’s catch
Additionally, Evans is still responsible for previous code enforcement fines.
Several Hernando Beach residents appeared before the board to speak out against the petition, citing incongruence with the surrounding area and unfavorable sights and odors originating from the business. Other opposing comments were submitted via email. Additionally, a petition was submitted to the BOCC, beginning with a cover page reporting over 1475 signatures.
Not all Hernando Beach residents were opposed to the petition. Katherine Birren, co-owner of Hernando Beach Seafood has appeared before the board in the past to defend her own rezoning petition. Birren has since formed the Nature Coast Commercial Fishermen's Association to help commercial fishermen defend their property rights. “Everyone seems very prejudiced to the commercial fishermen. When they go to get seafood, they really don’t want the imports, they want the fresh stuff. But they don’t want to see it, smell it, hear it...”
Online Petition: https://www.change.org/p/hernando-county-planning-and-zoning-and-board-of-county-
Previous Coverage: https://www.hernandosun.com/index.php/article/sport-fishermans-landing-loses-zoning-fight