County commission unanimously votes to adopt Port District changes

The Citrus County Commission on Tuesday night approved adoption of two amendments to the county's Comprehensive Plan, which will allow the creation of a Port District, as well as provide mixed uses for that property.

County Commissioners were unanimous in their vote to approve the changes to the Comprehensive Plan.

Dixie Hollins, half of the team that owns what is now called Hollinswood Harbor near Inglis, told commissioners that he appreciated the county's efforts at helping him, as well as individuals and county businessmen, in making the Port District a reality. The other owner of Hollinswood Harbor is Tampa businessman Hal Flowers.

Noting that his wife took him to Michael Jackson's "This Is It" movie, Hollins told commissioners, "And this is it. This is the beginning and not the end of a project we all can be proud of in Citrus County."

It was a two-amendment approach. The first will allow the creation of the Port District. The second redesignates about 545 acres from Industrial District, Conservation District, Extractive District, and Transportation/Communication/Utilities District to Port District and Transportation/Communication/Utilities District on the Generalized Future Land Use Map on property.

The commission's vote came over the objections of the Citrus County Council, a consortium of civic clubs, homeowners associations and environmental groups, which includes the Save The Manatee Club. They took issue with the idea that the manatees in the Cross Florida Barge canal weren't in any danger from the Port District, and saw increased boat traffic as a danger to the few manatees who go there en route to feeding and birthing areas along the Withlacoochee River.

All five commissioners noted that the state's Department of Community Affairs was satisfied the district now meets all of their standards, and that the county's staff also had no objections.

Commissioner Joe Meek thanked Hollins for bringing the project to the commission, and called it a "very good project that will have a positive effect on Citrus County." Commissioner Dennis Damato called the concept "visionary, project specific and innovative." Commissioner Gary Bartell said he was proud that it addresses the issues of intensity and central utilities. Commissioner Winn Webb added that he also supported it, and Commissioner John Thrumston said it "will create jobs and the quality of life in Citrus County," and called it "exciting."