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Paving requests hit county

Published:   |   Updated: July 19, 2013 at 11:15 AM

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BROOKSVILLE - John Young, of Royal Highlands, was tired of the constant film of white dust covering his car, home and clothes.

Living on a lime rock road, especially during dry season, is challenging, and Young said he is forced to change his furnace filters weekly because they get clogged with dust particles.

Young, who lives off Osprey Avenue, decided he'd had enough and last February plunked down $250 to get the process started to petition the county and create a Multiple Service Benefit Unit to get the road paved.

Under an MSBU, the county pays one-third of road improvements and residents pay two-thirds on their assessment.

Young needed 51 percent of his neighbors to agree to pay to have their road paved. He learned that 83 percent responded in favor of the road paving.

Young said he did everything by the book to get the road paved. He also took advantage of new rules that made it possible for Young not to have to go door-to-door to get those signatures.

"I followed the rules, did what I had to do, and now I'm getting the runaround," said Young, who lives at 13124 Osprey Ave., near Hexam Road.

But it appears Young is not getting a runaround. Instead, he is the victim of new MSBU rules that went into effect earlier this year.

Young's case is not unusual. Ever since county commissioners made it easier for residents to petition the county to get their lime rock roads paved, the county has been inundated with requests.

So much so, it has suspended requests until the end of the year.

Assistant County Administrator for Operations Brian Malmberg said the county is working through a backlog of requests that would see just shy of 50 miles of lime rock roads paved, all of which are located in Royal Highlands in northwest Hernando County.

That's up from an average 3 miles in any other given year and the county's match for each request comes out of the transportation trust fund set aside for such paving projects.

Why the glut?

Two reasons, says Malmberg.

First, commissioners lowered the percentage of neighboring signatures from 60 percent to 51.

But Malmberg said the biggest change, and probably the reason why there is such a rush on requests, is when commissioners approved a plan to allow the petitioner to send in $250 and allow the county staffers to send out survey cards to the people in the proposed MSBU area.

No longer would residents have to do the legwork and canvass the area trying to get signatures.

Malmberg said the $1 million or so set aside in the transportation trust fund to pay the one-third match is exhausted. It would take about three times that amount to pay out what it would take to pave 50 miles of lime rock roads.

In Young's case, the county would pave and make drainage improvements to Osprey Avenue, which is already partially paved, and Fulmar Road west to Finch Road and south to Old Squaw Road.

The county estimates it will cost $62,370 for the improvements, with the county paying one-third, or $20,582.

If the benefiting property owners decided to pay the assessment in full, they would pay $2,845.

The board must still approve the request and then the county goes out to bid on the paving contract, which could take up to a year and a half.

Young told Hernando Today he feared other projects were being pushed through ahead of his because of the delay. But that is not the case, Malmberg said.

In fact, Malmberg has good news for Young: His request is one of the next to come before county commissioners, probably in August. Malmberg is asking people who submitted MSBU requests to be patient and rest assured the county will get to all of them eventually.

"It's just a lot more work," Malmberg said.

(352) 544-5290

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