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Tuesday, Mar 31, 2015

Commissioners delay vote on Hernando Beach tourism center

Published:   |   Updated: May 13, 2014 at 10:19 AM

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—Residents of Hernando Beach showed up in droves at Tuesday’s county commission meeting to protest a proposed placement of an educational tourism center off Shoal Line Boulevard in Hernando Beach.

But they were greeted with news that the applicants for that project, Gordon and Jim Wolf, had hired a legal firm and asked that the discussion be postponed until the board’s next meeting in two weeks.

County commissioners agreed to postpone but instead set the discussion for June 24, giving staff more time to prepare and allow a full board to be present.

County Commissioner Jim Adkins, who was absent Tuesday, is recovering from back surgery and may not be present in two weeks, Commissioner Diane Rowden said.

Commissioner Dave Russell said the county should know by June 24 whether Gov. Rick Scott will approve $4 million recently included by Florida lawmakers in the state budget that would be used to help offset costs of building the tourism and education center.

County Administrator Len Sossamon said the county has no signed contract for the center to be located at the Shoal Line site, behind the Blue Pelican Marina that is owned by the Wolf Brothers.

Sossamon said there are other areas that could be considered, including Osowaw Boulevard, site of the decommissioned wastewater treatment plant.

The $4 million state appropriation is not tied to the Shoal Line site, Sossamon said.

County Commissioner Nick Nicholson said he intends to vote against the Shoal Line site at the June 24 meeting.

“I don’t want it at Shoal Line Boulevard,” said Nicholson to audience applause.

Many Hernando Beach residents planned to stay at the meeting to voice their opposition to the project during the citizen comments section of the meeting.

They are concerned about traffic, noise and the loss of tranquility caused by tourists.

The Wolf brothers envisioned a 55-foot-tall outdoor amphitheater, an indoor cultural center which includes a 200-seat indoor nature theater, a gift store, welcome center and parking lot.

Hernando County would own the educational plaza and the Wolf Brothers would build, own and operate up to 42 rental cottages adjacent to the facility.

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