04/18/2019 Letters to the Editor

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Denial is simply ‘BANANAs’

I am writing this letter to voice my disappointment of the city council for refusing to change the land use designation back to the original land use designation it had when the owners purchased the property.

Since 2008, Dunnellon has had an unwritten moratorium on any new subdivision growth. This moratorium, in my opinion, has been caused by what I call “CAVES” and “BANANAS.” “CAVES” are Citizens Against Virtually Everything. “BANANAS” are people who believe Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone.

A few months ago, Charles Dillon, approached the Planning Commission requesting a parcel of land behind Badcock Furniture be changed back to the land use designation when he and his partners purchased the property.

The property is located on one side, 20 feet from low-income government subsidized housing. The other side of the property abuts the Short Tower Pit (named more than 80 years ago). The request was denied by the Planning Commission. The Planning Commission’s recommendation was sent to the City Council.

The city staff, with more than 35 years’ experience, also reviewed their recommendation. The city staff recommended that the council approve Mr. Dillon’s request. Ken Metcalf, an expert in Comp Plan Land Uses is paid by the state grant process for helping the city step through land use problems. Mr. Metcalf had no problem with city staff’s recommendation.

The City Council set a date for the first Public Hearing. The property owners only request was to have the land use designation changed back to its original designation when he purchased the property. He wanted to build town houses for 55-and-older residents.

At the public hearing, Blue Cove residents, most of whom lived around the Short Tower Pit, voiced their objections and concerns asking the council not to grant the request. Most of their concerns were that town houses built on the site would have a negative effect on their homes, obstruct their view, and town house buyers attract undesirables. One resident stated she felt that these undesirables would start breaking into their homes. I for one, do not know, what an undesirable looks like.

The second public hearing started the same as the first with the same concerns.

However, there were more questions between the council and the city attorney. The council was given a petition signed by some of the Blue Cove home owners. One of the council members stated that this many signatures could weigh heavily in the decision making process.

With this statement in mind, four to five citizens decided to start on a petition to recommend the change be granted. The signatures on the petition greatly outnumbered the Blue Cove residents petition. Plus, the Chamber of Commerce endorsed the change back to original land use designation.

I was one of the individuals collecting signatures. I targeted third-, fourth- and fifth-generation Dunnellon residents. These people have lived in Dunnellon all their lives, waiting for Dunnellon to have new residential growth. The city has annexed many acres of vacant land and had put so many restrictions on building that the property sets vacant today.

I find it hard to fathom that the city council would not consider the third-, fourth- and fifth-generation families, the Dunnellon Chamber of Commerce endorsement, the number of signatures on the petition submitted and the city staff recommendation. I was also surprised when the executive director of the Chamber of Commerce gave their reason for supporting the land designation change and the council said nothing.

The Chamber and the city has always worked as partners. We have four new council members. They are in the learning process. Hopefully, they will learn that there are two groups of people: the vocal minority and the silent majority.

Larry Winkler,


Boomtown Days, reliving the 1890s

Whether it was seeing Billy the Kid, classic cars, beauty pageants, karate exhibitions, bank robbery re-enactments, musicians, arts and crafts, food courts, Boomtown Betty or holding a piece of real phosphate in your hands, Boomtown Days Dunnellon was the place to be this weekend.

The town of Dunnellon showed off its history to many hundreds of locals and visitors alike. It was a show like no other. The festival offered those who attended a glimpse into the past of a place where the discovery of phosphate made it famous.

Stopping at the Greater Dunnellon’s Historical Society booth was like reliving an era through all the displays of black and white photographs that preserved the days of yesteryear. And, in-between their shows, the Shadow Riders cowboys were incredible historians, who were eager to share their knowledge of the past with all who asked.

Walking along the Historic District of Dunnellon seemed like it was the 1890’s again, seeing ladies and gents in assorted period attire. If only for a brief time, those moments made it a day like no other that I will always remember.

I thank the Dunnellon Chamber & Business Association and all the volunteers and participants of the proud town of Dunnellon who shared their place in history, as that’s what made this day so eventful.

This was my first Boomtown Days Dunnellon, but it certainly won’t be my last. I’ll be back to experience it all over again next year.

Lois Booth,

Beverly Hills