Pasco County Commission Approves Huge Coastal Development
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03/30/10 Kate Bradshaw
WMNF Drive-Time News Tuesday | Listen to this entire show:

Today the Pasco County Commission voted unanimously to approve a large development in the county’s northwest corner. Environmentalists are not happy with what will eventually be built along a coastal swath that is also a habitat for Florida black bears.

Proponents of the more than six point six million square foot development, like Hudson resident Anthony De Lucola, say that the development will beef up Pasco’s anemic economy.

Ed Garter, another Hudson resident says that changing the county’s comprehensive plan to allow two thousand five hundred homes, a large resort, and a golf course, among other things, sure beat what’s there now – a rock mine.

Georgeanne Ratliff, the Wilson Miller development consultant who spoke on behalf of developer SunWest, claimed that the Harbourtowne development would actually benefit the environment.

But conservationists aren’t buying it. Elizabeth Fleming of Defenders of Wildlife said that substantial habitat for multiple species, namely the Florida Black Bear would be lost.

She added that impacts of sea level rise as well as major storms are a hazard. Joe Murphy of the Gulf Restoration Network said the argument that such an expansive development in the area would be beneficial is based on false logic. He said that just because the comp plan changes SunWest wants would have less environmental impact doesn’t mean the proposed development is a good thing.

Murphy urged the commissioners to look at the needs of many instead of the needs of the few.

The development now must go to the State Department of Community Affairs for review. Joe Murphy of the Gulf Restoration Network said that his and other environmental groups will continue to challenge it.

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