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Friday, Mar 27, 2015

Mud bogging organizer mired in citations


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Fifteen months ago, Mike Barbee told Hernando County commissioners he wanted to get started on his “Mud on the Barbee” entertainment venue north of Brooksville.

Barbee said he and his partners didn’t have time to wait months for permits; they wanted the commissioners’ permission to begin holding events a soon as possible.

The elected board rejected his request and said Barbee must abide by the permitting rules the same as everyone.

“No shortcuts,” Commissioner Nick Nicholson told him.

Last week the county issued Barbee four citations, asserting he failed to obtain needed permits and illegally started to build what looks like an entertainment stage on property off U.S. 98, north of Brooksville.

The citations maintain Barbee didn’t obtain a conditional-use permit for a mud bogging site; failed to get a land clearing permit; failed to secure a floodplain permit or receive approval for development in a floodplain; and didn’t get a permit for construction of a barn/stage/bandstand before beginning work.

Three of the four citations will go before a special master at a hearing slated for June 26, and any fines would be determined at that time, said Virginia Singer, the county’s public information manager.

Barbee defended the process he is going through and said he was not trying to shortcut the system.

“We’re not trying to hurt anybody,” Barbee said. “We’re trying to help the community by trying to bring something that everyone will enjoy.”

Barbee declined to go into much detail but said he is trying to following the county’s rules. “We’ve done nothing wrong,” he said.

Meanwhile, Thomas Malouf, a partner of Barbee’s and the owner of the property proposed for development, has applied for a conditional-use permit and county staffers are reviewing that request.

Building official James Friedrichs, in a letter to Malouf, stated the county-granted permit exemption issued in April was for a 40-by-40-foot pole barn on the site.

“The building division and zoning division have received evidence showing that falsified documents were submitted to obtain the exemption and that the structure being built is a stage, not a pole barn,” said Friedrichs, who placed a stop work order on the site until proper permits are obtained.

Barbee said the structure being built on the Malouf property is the beginning stages of a pole barn.

Building Department field investigator Vic Heisler said it is imperative that properties comply with the Florida Building Code.

“If they want to keep the structure that’s up there, they will have to obtain the proper building permits or remove the structure,” Heisler said.

When he pitched the project to the county, Barbee said the mud-bogging venue could serve as the basis for a new reality show. He said he would serve as executive producer and CEO of the show, that he envisioned as “a bunch of rednecks playing in the mud” on the site.

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