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Hernando Co. Commission cancels plan to build controversial water plant

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Residents packed  the Hernando Co. Commission meeting to voice concerns about a proposed water plant. Residents packed the Hernando Co. Commission meeting to voice concerns about a proposed water plant.
The existing well on the proposed water plant site. Despite shelving the project county managers plan to ramp up water pumping from the existing well and maybe add another one. The existing well on the proposed water plant site. Despite shelving the project county managers plan to ramp up water pumping from the existing well and maybe add another one.
The existing well on the proposed water plant site. Despite shelving the project county managers plan to ramp up water pumping from the existing well and maybe add another one. The existing well on the proposed water plant site. Despite shelving the project county managers plan to ramp up water pumping from the existing well and maybe add another one.
HERNANDO COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

In a stunning policy reversal Tuesday morning, the Hernando County Commission canceled a plan to build a water plant near the Sherman Hills and Ridge Manor subdivisions next to I-75 and Cortez Blvd.

The proposed water plant has drawn a groundswell of opposition from nearby residents who said it would create an eyesore, depress property values and greatly increase the danger of sinkholes.

"I'm highly in favor of looking elsewhere," said Commissioner Nick Nicholson who objected to paying $470,000 for the land purchase of the property in question.

Two other commissioners also expressed reluctance based on other concerns to move forward with the plan to build a water plant, large water storage tanks and additional wells.

"At least three of us are not comfortable with the location," said Commissioner Diane Rowden. "So why have everybody riled up and coming up here if we can make a decision not to do this."

County Commission Chairman Wayne Dukes remains a strong advocate for the project which he said is needed to handle future growth. "The east side of the county will continue to grow," Dukes said.

But, after commissioners called a brief recess to privately discuss the matter with staff members, Dukes gave up trying to push it forward for final approval on Tuesday's commission agenda.

"I think we're going to come back within a few months, maybe have a new location and press on," said Dukes.

The decision to shelf the water plant drew cheers from residents who packed the commission chambers, but Dukes made it clear he's not giving up.

"We can put this off," Dukes said. "[But] this is going to happen or we won't have any water."

Mike McAndrews helped rally scores of residents against the project over the past several months and showed up at the course with a room full of residents wearing red shirts in solidarity against the water project.

McAndrews left the courthouse feeling victorious after commissioners decided to shelve the project without hearing form a single opponent.

"I thought we'd all have to get up and do our presentations," McAndrews said. "I think we shocked them today.

Copyright 2014 WFLA. All rights reserved.


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