Planning and zoning commissioners last week voted 5-0 to approve expansion of an airport wastewater treatment plant overlay district.
The plant is located on 33 acres on the east side of the Suncoast Parkway and the south end of Downwind Way. The expansion will allow county utility department staffers to add additional “rapid infiltration basins,” which provide for land treatment and disposal of wastewater.
The basins allow wastewater to percolate through the soil and the treated product drains — through the use of hydraulic pathways — to the groundwater or surface water.
The project will be phased in over 20 years and cost about $25 million.
The request didn’t meet with much resistance from surrounding homeowners.
County utility department staffers maintain there will be few smells associated with the project, a claim that planning members found difficult to believe.
Planning Commissioner Robert Widmar said he was concerned about odors emanating from the site. The new Trillium Village development is located to the south.
“I guess I’m just surprised there’s nobody here from that subdivision,” Widmar said.
The board sided with their planning staffers who found it consistent with Hernando County’s adopted comprehensive plan that regulates growth. The overlay district is also consistent with the county’s future land use map, according to a staff report.
In approving the request, commissioners stipulated the utility department provide a wildlife survey prior to development and that a 50-foot buffer be erected around the site for esthetic purposes.
The utility department has also proposed an access road that will connect to an existing dirt road on the treatment plant site. That access road will run between the infiltration basins and will allow workers to access the plant for maintenance purposes.
The infiltration basins are routinely monitored by local, state and federal regulatory agencies and usually involves sampling and analysis of groundwater from wells around the site.