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SCC Patrol, Backflow Regs, AB Rezoning and Ethanol Plant Permits

By MELODY JAMESON

…SCC Patrol

In a fractured vote, the SCC Security Patrol’s directors have agreed to get started on a comprehensive professional audit of the operation’s functions and financial records.

Board President Karen Ryan confirmed this week the action was set in motion during an especially-called meeting last week when a sub-committee was formed to begin immediately developing a RFP (Request for Proposal) outlining the audit scope.

Asked about the vote breakdown, the president said the audit motion passed with a quorum present on a three to one basis, with three abstentions. Directors Marilyn Balkany, Eileen Courter and Ryan supported the motion, Nancy LaCrosse opposed it. Abstaining were Mike Albanese, Larry Henbest and Kurt Nolden. An eighth board member, Paul Thibault, was not present. Although appearing fractured, the vote is valid and acceptable under Robert’s Rules of Order, Ryan noted.

A long-time patrol member and new board officer, Ryan has been calling for an audit and fresh start for one of the community’s most beloved volunteer organizations whose management records show repeated problems, including violation of federal law, financial inconsistencies and attempted end runs around current by-laws.

An RFP is expected by the end of the month. The audit is expected to cost the not-for-profit organization valued at more than $1 million several thousand dollars.

…Backflow Regs

A moratorium on both installations of backflow prevention devices in residential areas and on inspections of such devices already installed remains in effect in Hillsborough County, pending revision of applicable rules by Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection.

The above-ground backflow preventers, designed to protect the integrity of a public potable water supply by stopping backflow of contamination into the water system but found to be easily sabotaged, subject to theft for their metal content and far from breakdown proof, once were required by county ordinance at all home sites with alternative water access. Communities such as Sun City Center and Apollo Beach became key targets for the required installations – at costs between $500 and $900 - because home landscaping there often was irrigated from the numerous existing lakes and private wells.

Dave Brown, a SCC retiree and consumer advocate, initiated a campaign questioning the previous backflow prevention program; an effort that led to public hearings around the state and consideration of changes to state regulations governing backflow prevention which has been underway for about 18 months. Hillsborough County subsequently halted the required installations and inspections.

Meanwhile, Paul Vanderploog, director of the county’s public works department, last week reiterated the county “has not performed residential inspections on alternative water source installations since the abeyance, and also has not required the normal yearly backflow device testing for those units already installed.”

It is important that homeowners understand the situation, noted Brown, now a member of the county’s cross connection control advisory board. Unscrupulous plumbers have been known to solicit inspection assignments, charging from $50 to $850 for the unnecessary service.

Once FDEP completes overhaul of its rules pertinent to alternative water sources, Vanderploog said, Hillsborough will rewrite its ordinance for enforcement on that basis.

…AB Rezoning

Another large contingent of SouthShore Falls residents is expected to appear before Hillsborough’s Board of County Commissioners on July 19 when a rezoning matter comes up for final review.

The community has been objecting for months to proposed development of the former AB Rescue Squad site on MillerMac Road for multiple buildings of business or professional offices. The site is adjacent to a Tampa Electric Company power substation and close to their backyards. When it last came to the BOCC, commissioners remanded it for another look based on environmental concerns. A rezoning hearing master twice has ruled in favor of the project.

Bruce Davis, a resident and community advocate, said this week arrangements have been completed for transporting the dozens of SSF homeowners committed to protesting a traffic-generating development in the middle of a residential area with ecologically sensitive wetlands and uplands.

…Ethanol Plant Permits

Permitting for a multi-million-dollar corn-to-ethanol plant proposed for acreage east of U.S. 41 and south of Kracker Road in Gibsonton has been ended.

In a June 22, 2011, letter to Hillsborough’s Environmental Protection Commission, John Jones formally withdrew applications for air and water permits on behalf of the prospective developer, Construction Tradition Group, a Polk County-based investors group. The letter gave no reason for the withdrawal.

The developers had proposed to bring in large quantities of feed-lot caliber corn from South Florida and process it during around-the-clock shifts to 200-proof ethanol then shipped out as additive to motor fuels.

Highly flammable ethanol, however, also is questioned as a fuel additive because critics contend it destroys some marine engines and ultimately actually increases the cost of treated gasoline to all consumers. Supporters of the project touted the anticipated 150 new jobs but others expressed concerns about noise and air pollution as well as high water consumption.

Copyright 2011 Melody Jameson

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