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Fee for Pasco road paving excludes Pinellas-owned land

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— Despite protests from some property owners, the Pasco County Commission voted Tuesday to pave a lime-rock road where one resident said dust is so thick it looks like snow when it settles on trees.

Most of the opposition to the $486,572 project came because Pinellas County, the biggest property owner on Bowman Road, won’t have to pay a paving assessment like other property owners. That’s because of a Pasco ordinance that prohibits the commission from charging the assessment to other government entities, a situation that didn’t sit well with several speakers at a public hearing before the commission’s vote.

“We want Pinellas to pay their fair share,” said Ronson Biedrzycki, who lives on the road.

He said he estimated his assessment would come to more than $28,000 with interest factored in over a 15-year payment period the commission approved.

Pinellas County, which owns property at Cross Bar Ranch and Al Bar Ranch, where it has logging and other operations, would have faced a $30,000 assessment over 15 years if it had to pay.

Pasco County Administrator Michele Baker said Pinellas actually already contributed toward the paving, though not through an assessment. Pinellas previously donated six acres of right-of-way for the future paving of Bowman, she said.

“If you value that at $15,000 an acre, they’ve already made a $90,000 plus or minus donation to this project,” Baker said.

The commission did make some concessions to the property owners.

The assessments are to be paid in annual installments through property taxes, at 4.25 percent interest, and originally there were to be two payment periods — 10 years for parcels valued at $10,000 or less and 15 years for parcels valued at more than $10,000.

The commission decided to spread the payments out to 15 years for everyone.

In addition, Commissioner Ted Schrader asked that Baker contact Pinellas County Administrator Mark Woodard to request that logging trucks stop using Bowman Road. Instead, the trucks could use Lockett Road, which also intersects with U.S. 41 and is the main entrance to Cross Bar Ranch.

The damage to Bowman Road and dust kicked up by the logging trucks had been a major complaint of residents.

Several speakers at the public hearing supported the paving, with or without an assessment for Pinellas County.

John Stuper said he considers the road paving an investment, and expects his property’s value to rise as a result. Right now, residents face a “constant barrage of dust,” he said.

“It sits on the trees and looks like it snowed,” he said.

Shirley Raley, who has lived in the area for 20 years, said driving on the road damages cars and trucks.

“I personally believe the money I save on my vehicles is going to pay my assessment,” Raley said.

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