CLEARWATER — Pinellas County commissioners Tuesday slammed the door on Pasco County’s request to buy 12,400 acres of former cattle pastures and citrus groves that Pinellas County bought decades ago to secure future water supplies for residents.
Pasco County leaders wanted to buy and link the Cross Bar and Al Bar ranches in the central part of the county to county trails to boost eco-tourism in the county.
But four of the seven commissioners said selling would mean giving up access to a possible water and make it impossible for Pinellas to opt out of the Tampa Bay Water, the regions’s water authority.
Cross Bar Ranch includes 17 wells that produce about 12 million gallons of water per day. The wells and six acres that they sit on are owned by the authority but the county has retained the water rights for the rest of the property.
“The pit of my stomach is telling me not to sell it,” Commissioner John Morroni said.
Instead, commissioners asked county staff to look into ways to make the land more accessible to the public. That could include a partnership with Pasco County although no discussions have yet taken place.