NEW PORT RICHEY — The owner of a multimillion-dollar concrete mixing plant will have to go to court if he wants to continue operating in the wrong zoning area next to a residential neighborhood.
Pasco commissioners on Tuesday voted to file an injunction to begin shutting down A+ Concrete for zoning and code violations. Commissioners unanimously rejected A+ Concrete’s application for “vested rights” even though they admit county staff approved his building permit to expand the plant, which is just off State Road 54 in Odessa.
Zoning 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 a years.
“This is a difficult situation,” A+ attorney David Smolker said. “In a perfect world we wouldn’t be here today. I think the county has some culpability here.”
Chief Assistant County Attorney David Goldstein said the county’s zoning only allows concrete mixing in heavy industrial areas. A+ is on land zoned for light industrial.
“Here, we’re allowing heavy industrial use right next to residents,” he said. “In my opinion, that’s contrary to public policy.”
More than a dozen homeowners from the neighboring Ashley Lakes subdivision provided sworn statements complaining about noise, vibrations, heavy truck traffic and dust. Janet Felts shared photos she took of concrete dust emissions from the silo tower. “I keep hearing over and over again that paving the lot and fixing the site will take care of the problem,” she said. “This picture has nothing to do with ground level dust.”
Plant operator Rob Brue said he invested more than $3.7 million in equipment to change from a dry to a wet-mix concrete plant. In addition, he signed a 10-year lease for the property in 2010 based on assurances he got from county staff. He offered to pave the site and increase the buffering to appease neighbors, but commissioners said they’d rather work with him to find a more appropriate location.
“I drive by this all the time and I think what an inappropriate place for this kind of business,” Commissioner Kathryn Starkey said. “It would be my desire if we could work with him to find a more suitable location.”
Smolker said in all likelihood, the case will end up in court.
“We’re going to evaluate our options,” Smolker said. “All options are on the table. If the county owns any property that would be a good location, we’re open to talking to them.”