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Odessa concrete plant fights improper zoning charges

ODESSA — The owner of a concrete mixing plant that has been operating for years without the proper zoning or permits is hoping a mediator will stop the county from shutting him down.
In late June, Assistant County Attorney Kristi Sims filed an injunction to close A+ Concrete for zoning and code violations. County commissioners unanimously rejected A+ Concrete’s application for “vested rights” even though they admit county staff approved a building permit to add a mixing tower at the plant, which is just off State Road 54 in Odessa.
County employees said they never bothered to check the zoning on the property because a concrete plant had been operating there — illegally as it turned out — for years.
In addition to the improper zoning, the company had not filed a site plan or a stormwater plan with the county. Two of the buildings on the site were erected without a building permit, and all of the signs are illegal.
Last year the company submitted a site plan that would have addressed several of the violations, but commissioners rejected it. That’s when it applied, unsuccessfully, for vested rights.
David Smolker, attorney for the plant, filed a motion to send the case to mediation in October.
concrete plant
“I thought we made a reasonable suggestion at the end of the hearing,” Smolker said. “We asked the county to allow us to improve the site. The problem is dust, and we can’t cure it because we haven’t been allowed to.”
Smolker said most of the dust could be eliminated if the A+ could pave the property. “We also proposed extensive buffering by planting a row of cedar trees along the border with Ashley Lakes, and having all the trucks use S.R. 54 for access,” Smolker said.
But for the homeowners who live a few hundred feet of the plant, the only solution is for the plant to move.
“I don’t feel like there is any room for compromise,” homeowner Janet Felts said. She’s one of a half-dozen neighbors who registered as interested parties in the litigation, which allows them to attend the Oct. 2 mediation.
“I want to be a part of it, and I want to be heard,” Felts said. “I do feel like the county has culpability, too.”
Pierre Hebert, another neighbor, also plans to participate. “I want to make sure no one ignores the residents,” he said. “Now it’s the county against the business owner, and I don’t want them to get involved in the mediation and forget about the community that has to live with it every day. We get cement all over our cars. We’re breathing that stuff all the time.”

From http://tbo.com/pasco-county/odessa-concrete-plant-fights-improper-zoning-charges-20140921/.
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