Two Homosassa groups at odds over old fire house

Two Homosassa-based groups are at odds over who will get to lease an old, unused fire house in that city.

The Homosassa Civic Club and the "We Care Food Pantry" were at the Citrus County Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday to lodge their complaints.

Old Homosassa resident and civic club president Jim Bitter told commissioners that he had been called by someone with the "We Care" group saying that investigators said he had incited neighbors near the old fire house to oppose the use of the facility to feed homeless people.

Bitter said he had not been behind neighbors complaining of the behavior of some of the homeless standing in the feeding line, some of whom were accused of parking on what one woman said was her lawn and another neighbor who said one of the homeless people in that line had urinated on their property.

Bitter said the one who accused him of inciting people against the use of the fire house was an attempt at "intimidating old men."

"That's not nice," he said.

"We Care" spokesperson Dianne Toto said Bitter wasn't just any "old man." She added any complaints were dealt with immediately after being brought to her attention.

"This is like a retaliatory action against the food pantry," Toto said. She said someone has been attempting to stir up nearby homeowners to convince the county to lease the property to the civic club. "This is only coming up now that the fire house is an issue. We haven't had a problem in five years. The civic club wants it so it can charge us more for the use of the fire house."

Bitter had also complained that County Administrator Brad Thorpe and County Attorney Richard Wesch had not returned his calls. Thorpe later explained that he had been on a weeklong vacation and that his time since he had returned was spent in preparing for Tuesday's county commission meeting.

Wesch said that he had been preparing for Tuesday's county commission, and that he had taken his "hands off" the case when he found out Bitter had also asked Thorpe for an opinion. Wesch said he didn't think it was appropriate for Bitter to ask opinions from two different county offices.

"You're were opinion shopping," Wesch told Bitter.