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C.T. Bowen, Pasco Times Columnist

C.T. Bowen

C.T. Bowen has been reporting and writing about the people and politics of Pasco County since moving to Florida in 1987. A native of upstate New York, he lives in Land O' Lakes with his wife, Mary Beth, a public school teacher. They have two sons.

Phone: (727) 869-6239

Email: bowen@tampabay.com

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  1. Bowen: Exemption plan would squeeze local governments

    News

    Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran wants to turn back the clock to 2008.

    Let's see: Oil prices reached $100 a barrel for the first time. The subprime mortgage crisis imploded the economy. The national unemployment rate began its ascent from 4.8 percent in February 2008 to 10.2 percent by October 2009. Lehman Bros. filed for bankruptcy. And President George W. Bush signed the $700 billion bailout bill known as Troubled Asset Relief Program....

    Corcoran
  2. Pasco ordinance seeks to grow community gardens

    Local Government

    Pasco County wants you to eat your fruits and vegetables.

    It wants to give you the chance to grow them, too.

    Maybe some ornamental plants, as well.

    A proposed ordinance, already approved by the county's Development Review Committee and awaiting commission action, will ease the way for community gardens, particularly in urbanized west Pasco.

    "It builds community and it give us good food,'' said Dell deChant of New Port Richey, a member of Pasco County's Food Policy Advisory Council. "It also shows how citizens can work together with their government.''...

    A proposed Pasco County ordinance will make it easier to develop community gardens like this one, the Habitat for Humanity Kinship Urban Farm, in New Port Richey.
  3. Biles accepts Pasco offer to lead county government

    Local Government

    An Alabama engineer is set to become Pasco County's next administrator.

    Dan Biles, 48, the deputy county manager for infrastructure in Jefferson County, Ala., has accepted Pasco's offer to replace Michele Baker as county administrator.

    "We are thrilled to soon be joining the #localgov #Pasco team,'' Biles tweeted March 16.

    Biles told the Tampa Bay Times he signed the county's offer sheet March 15. A formal contract is being drafted and is expected to be voted upon by county commissioners on March 28....

    A unanimous Pasco Commission selected Dan Biles, 48, of Jefferson County, Alabama as their top choice to be the next Pasco County administrator.
  4. Pasco turns to Alabama for next county administrator

    Local Government

    NEW PORT RICHEY — A unanimous county commission made its short list even shorter Tuesday, picking Dan Biles of Alabama as the top choice to be the next Pasco County administrator.

    Biles, the deputy Jefferson County manager for infrastructure in Birmingham, Ala., emerged as the clear favorite among commissioners after a full day of interviews. Biles was the top-ranked selection by all five commissioners, leading the board to cancel a second round of interviews scheduled for Wednesday morning....

    Dan Biles, 48, is the deputy Jefferson County manager for infrastructure in Birmingham, Ala.
  5. Pasco panel okays golf course conversion in Wesley Chapel

    Business

    DADE CITY — The mulligan requested by the owner of Quail Hollow Golf and Country Club proved to be successful.

    Last week, the county's Development Review Committee authorized conversion of the 18-hole course into a residential community of up to 389 single-family homes despite objections from neighbors. The successful pitch came two months after attorney Barbara Wilhite asked for a delay during a January hearing when DRC members expressed doubts about compatibility of a new, dense development with an existing rural-flavored neighborhood....

    The Quail Hollow Golf & Country Club was shuttered for four years before owners made extensive renovations and reopened in 2011. The course is now targeted for 389 homes. Times files (2008)
  6. Retail development begins on north side of Cypress Creek Town Center

    Retail

    The first retail component of the northern portion of the Cypress Creek Town Center in central Pasco is under way, with a Tennessee developer planning a nearly 21,000-square-foot strip center with an adjoining restaurant.

    The center and 5,000-square-foot restaurant will join the just-opened Pollo Tropical, Ford's Garage — which is under construction — and a planned Taco Bell along the north side of State Road 56 between Interstate 75 and Wesley Chapel Boulevard (County Road 54) in Lutz. That puts them directly across the highway from the Tampa Premium Outlets mall and the six restaurants, with two more under construction, in the portion of the town center south of SR 56....

  7. Group advocates for Pasco purchase of proposed mine site

    Environment

    DADE CITY — Former brethren from other locales offered unsolicited land-use advice to Pasco County commissioners Tuesday: It's your county, but don't make it a mine.

    Attorney Ed Turanchik, who served on the Hillsborough County Commission from 1990 to 1998, and former Hernando Commissioner Diane Rowden delivered that message during the public comment portion of Tuesday's commission meeting. They joined Pasco residents Arlen Black and Robert Howell, and DeeVon Quirolo of Brooksville, in seeking to stop the expansion of lime-rock mining in north-central Pasco....

    The Lago Verde mine has been operating in north-central Pasco since 2013. Neighbors and others don’t want to see mining expand in the area and asked the county to purchase the neighboring site proposed as the Seven Diamonds mine.
  8. Job recruiters say home sales signal Pasco's demographic change

    Business

    LUTZ — Tom Ryan, economic development manager for the Pasco Economic Development Council, says he gets asked a common question from executives pondering a company relocation to Pasco.

    "Where are my employees going to live, work and play?" Ryan said. "It's almost a cliche now."

    The answer, he said, signals the changing demographics of Pasco County. They are choosing to live in Pasco, where, in some locations, particularly along the State Road 54 and State Road 56 corridor, higher-end housing is the new norm, catering to an expanding, educated workforce....

    Ryan Jesso, 27, left, and Matt Parker, 42, of Tarpon Springs, employees of Sun-Rock Architectural Molding & Installation, place a slab of molding trim along the facade of a new home in the Starkey Ranch subdivision on March 2.
  9. Slow pace of redevelopment along U.S. 19 in Pasco triggers impatience

    Economic Development

    NEW PORT RICHEY — There were speeches and refreshments, and the dignitaries donned white hard hats, used red shovels and flung dirt. But it wasn't your typical groundbreaking.

    Last week, New Port Richey's mayor and City Council, along with developer Linda McGurn of Gainesville, hailed the renewed construction at Main Street Landing, an 80-apartment, 14-store complex, that stalled more than a decade ago. The high-profile project at Main Street and the Pithlachascotee River marked the first significant private downtown investment in the city's then-fledgling redevelopment program. It ground to a halt amid rising construction costs, falling real estate prices and a prior council that declined to authorize a renegotiated deal....

    After a decadelong delay, construction is under way again at Main Street Landing in downtown New Port Richey. When completed in 16 to 18 months, the complex will include 80 apartments and 14 commercial units at Main Street and the Pithlachascotee River.
  10. 841 homes planned for former dairy farm, citrus grove in Land O'Lakes

    Business

    LAND O'LAKES — The cows are long gone and the pasture is soon to follow as a home builder advances plans to turn a former dairy farm and the onetime citrus grove next door into a residential development.

    Last month, a newly formed company, Cypress Preserve 841, closed on the $5.75 million purchase of the 293-acre Lester Dairy Farm that sits west of U.S. 41, about a mile south of State Road 52. The company also paid $4.2 million for the adjoining 139 acres owned by Florida Citrus Investors. At one time, that land had been home to Smith Groves....

    The newly formed Cypres Preserve 841 has closed on the purchase of the former Lester’s Dairy Farm, pictured here, and the adjoining land that had once been home to a citrus grove. [Times 2007]
  11. Bowen: Job-incentive dispute pits legislators against their own personal histories

    Legislature

    The political fisticuffs between Gov. Rick Scott and House Speaker Richard Corcoran over Enterprise Florida has two of Pasco's state legislators trapped right in the middle.

    The brouhaha doesn't have them caught between the governor and speaker as much as it has the legislators bumping up against their own family or personal voting records.

    Start with 21-year-old freshman Rep. Amber Mariano, R-Hudson, who begins her first 60-day legislative session next week. She is in the speaker's corner in the dispute over the future of Enterprise Florida, the state's economic recruiting agency, and the job-creating incentives offered to private companies....

    State Rep. Amber Mariano
  12. Pasco bumps annual stormwater fee by $38

    Local Government

    NEW PORT RICHEY — A County Commission majority decided Tuesday they couldn't wait 47 years to fix the aging stormwater culverts blamed for much of the street flooding in west Pasco's older neighborhoods.

    Instead, commissioners voted 4-1, with Mike Wells Jr. dissenting, to increase the annual storm-water assessment by $23 for culvert cleaning and repairs and $15 to cover the engineering costs for nearly $40 million worth of stormwater projects....

    Commissioner Mike Wells Jr. voted against the fee increase.
  13. Pasco narrows administrator search to five candidates

    Local Government

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco commissioners narrowed the search for their next county administrator to five candidates Tuesday, but not without a curveball from Commissioner Jack Mariano.

    What about Kevin Guthrie? Mariano asked the rest of the board after being briefed on 11 candidates recommended by an executive head hunter.

    Guthrie 46, joined the county a little more a year ago as emergency management director and was promoted less than two months later to the newly created job of director of emergency services. There, Guthrie also oversees the county's emergency dispatch system and helped resolve a public dispute between Sheriff Chris Nocco and County Administrator Michele Baker over management of the 911 center....

    Pasco County Administrator Michele Baker is leaving when her contract expires in July.
  14. Bowen: Rebuilding a west Pasco community, one meal at a time

    News

    Home improvement guru Bob Vila would have a blast in here.

    The place is decorated in 1960s-era basement chic: dark wooden wall panels and damaged, water-stained ceiling tiles. Two of the four paddles on a ceiling fan are missing, and as many as half of the overhead fluorescent lightbulbs are burned out.

    "And this is the nicer part," confessed Lisa Heeter, 40, who spends a lot of time in the 8,100-square-foot building in a job titled neighborhood impact director....

  15. Pasco limits number of medical marijuana dispensers to two

    Local Government

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Two months ago, Pasco commissioners agreed that growers and dispensers of medical marijuana could operate in the county, they just couldn't decide how many should be allowed to do so.

    On Tuesday, with no discussion, commissioners settled on a number — two. The only comment at the public hearing came from Chase Daniels of the Pasco Sheriff's Office, who said Sheriff Chris Nocco supported the proposal....

    Pasco County staffers recommended two dispensers based on the number of qualified patients in the county, and commissioners agreed unanimously. The medical marijuana known as Charlotte’s Web is available for patients with cancer or medical conditions causing chronic seizures or muscle spasms. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, File)