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Wednesday, Sep 17, 2014
Pasco Tribune

Road use prompts San Antonio to sue Commissioners vote to file lawsuit against neighboring St. Leo


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— The San Antonio Board of Commissioners recently agreed to file a lawsuit against neighboring St. Leo over the use of tiny Pompanic Street by Saint Leo University.

San Antonio officials believe St. Leo commissioners violated their own land-development code and comprehensive plan in allowing large trucks to access a planned plant operations facility at the university via Pompanic.

Each town owns half of the road.

Brian Bolves, a Tampa lawyer representing San Antonio, said St. Leo’s approval of truck traffic on Pompanic will create hazards for people who walk, jog and ride bicycles on the road.

“Pompanic will not adequately handle traffic associated with the facility,” Bolves said. “Their (traffic) engineer testified at a hearing that the road would fail. In addition, the road is too narrow.

“There are no sidewalks or shoulders. It’s below the county standards with respect to the width of the lanes. It’s a dangerous situation. That’s what prompted (San Antonio) to act.”

Bolves said Thursday the lawsuit likely will be filed within the next week.

St. Leo approved the university’s use of Pompanic this month with a couple of stipulations.

First, the university seeks permission from the Florida Department of Transportation to use State Road 52 for any future plans regarding access to Pompanic and the university’s west campus.

Also, before the university requests approval from the town for any further use of Pompanic, the transportation department must first deny it access to the west campus via S.R. 52.

St. Leo and the university agreed to split the $250,000 cost of road improvements to Pompanic.

Bolves said his interpretation of St. Leo’s vote means improvements to Pompanic will be done “commensurate with future phases” of the west side of the university’s campus.

“That makes it clear that (road improvements are) in the future. That intersection is inadequate to handle truck traffic,” he said, adding there isn’t enough space for large trucks to make turns at S.R. 52 and Pompanic.

“What they need to do is improve the whole intersection. I’m just saying that as a citizen who’s driven through there many times,” he said. “It’s a difficult intersection as it is.”

The issue has been controversial from the start, as residents in both towns have complained of increased truck traffic, compromised safety and road damage, as well as landscaping, fencing and other aesthetics.

San Antonio Mayor Tim Newlon said that moving forward with a lawsuit against St. Leo wasn’t an easy decision, although the vote was unanimous.

“What I hope is that Pompanic can be improved from S.R. 52 to the entrance for the plant operations building and brought up to county or DOT standards without the city of San Antonio having to pay,” he said.

“The university should pay for the street improvements, since they’re driving the project.”

St. Leo Mayor Richard Christmas declined to comment on the pending lawsuit, as it has not yet been filed.

Newlon said relations between town officials are “very good,” despite the pending suit.

“I hope it remains so,” he said. “From the beginning, I’ve said that all three players, the city, town and university, will have to work together in the future. We have to maintain a healthy working relationship, so we’ll get past this.”

gfox@tampatrib.com

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