By LISA MACNEIL
Scott Hechler, Hernando County’s Director of Public Safety and Fire Chief was recognized at the March 21, 2021 board of county commissioners (BOCC) meeting for his designation of Chief Fire Officer by the Center for Public Safety Excellence (CPSE https://www.cpse.org).
Talented and well-dressed pups showed up on Saturday, March 27, 2021 to compete in contests and mingle with other furry counterparts at the Rotary of Spring Hill Central’s St. Puppy’s Day in the Park.
The Brooksville City Council conducted a workshop on March 15 to revisit the prospect of reverting Brooksville’s one-way streets along Jefferson and Broad back to their original two-way configuration. Council member Blake Bell introduced the item to the council, reporting that he’s received feedback from city residents -- as well as witnessed himself -- unsafe vehicle speeds, particularly from large trucks.
A proposed policy change drove a large group of business leaders, event organizers, vendors and interested residents to voice their objections at the March 15, 2021 Brooksville City Council meeting. The proposed policy, which contained language that could potentially affect several events in Brooksville and private property rights was voted down 3-2 with Blake Bell, David Bailey and Mayor Pat Brayton voting in opposition to adoption.
County commissioners voted unanimously to accept a state grant to make access improvements at Peck Sink Trail and construct an overlook platform. The grant application was originally approved in 2019. The project is expected to cost the county $41,240 of the estimated $206,200 total. The $164,960 grant is offered by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) Recreational Trail Program. The county’s match will come from District 2 parks impact fees.
At the February 23, 2021 Board Of County Commissioners (BOCC) meeting, an ordinance to form the Waterways Advisory Committee was unanimously approved. This new advisory board will be composed of members of the current Port Authority and will largely act in the same capacity. The BOCC will act as the Hernando County Port Authority, announcing during regular meetings when they are voting as that entity.
The Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce in partnership with Hernando County Government will provide a grant program to further enhance the recovery of small businesses adversely impacted by the COVID-19 Pandemic. Phase 3 of the small business grant program will provide grants of $3,500 to brick-and-mortar small businesses and nonprofits to stimulate the local economy.
The Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) discussed, however did not vote on a new panhandling ordinance. At the February 23, 2021 meeting, the board agreed that they will create a solid plan to limit the areas in which panhandling will be allowed. The main issue to consider carefully is that such an ordinance may be unconstitutional. Panhandling and begging, like other forms of charitable solicitation, is a form of protected speech that occurs in a public forum such as sidewalk spaces.
A hotly contested rezoning petition was denied at the February 1, 2021 Brooksville City Council meeting. By a vote of 3-2, the council denied the petition to rezone approximately 413 acres in Southern Hills from RPDP (Residential Planned Development Project) to PDP-MU (Planned Development Project-Mixed Use) to allow for originally planned 925 single-family homes in addition to 26 villa/duplex units and up to 15,000 square feet of floor space for office and professional use.