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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: (813) 435-7306


  1. Bowen: Crossing arms, not trains, block traffic in central Pasco


    Railroad traffic through Land O'Lakes and Lutz periodically interrupts cars and trucks trying to get through one of the busiest intersections in Pasco County — the crossroads of U.S. 41 and State Road 54.

    It actually averages less than one freight train per day, according to CSX.

    That shouldn't pose too terrible of an inconvenience for motorists.

    The crossing gates stopping cars from entering the intersection are another story....

    OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times 
The CSX railroad gates at U.S. 41 and State Road 54 in central Pasco have malfunctioned 18 times over the past 12 months, according to Pasco Sheiffi's Office reports, blocking vehicle traffic even though no train is coming.
  2. Pasco County backs industrial spec space with $7 million loan

    Economic Development

    ODESSA — Graham Mavar said he first looked around Pasco County seven years ago for a suitable place to develop a high-end employment center.

    "Industrial likes to go next to industrial, but somebody's got to go first. That's always the biggest challenge," said Mavar, a partner in the Tampa-based commercial real estate development firm Harrod Properties.

    The company finally settled on a location — the Asturia development north of State Road 54 and west of the Suncoast Parkway — and now is partnering with Pasco County on a $26 million project to develop two roads and up to 200,000 square feet of Class A spec space for office/industrial use....

    Bill Cronin of the Pasco Economic Development Council touts the need for Class A office space.
  3. Pasco commission OKs Quail Hollow golf course conversion

    Local Government

    DADE CITY — A Wesley Chapel golf course can be bulldozed for 389 homes, Pasco County commissioners ruled Tuesday.

    On a 4-1 vote, with Chairman Mike Moore dissenting, commissioners decided a long-delayed rezoning issue by allowing the owner of Quail Hollow Golf & Country Club to swap fairways for driveways.

    The decision came as dozens of objecting neighbors sat wearing green shirts adorned with green stickers and yellow lettering that parroted the county's marketing slogan, "Open spaces, vibrant places.''...

    The Quail Hollow Golf and Country Club owner asked for permission to turn the golf course into a development.
  4. Two new restaurants to join Cypress Creek Town Center


    Florida's nearly 39,000 restaurants are projected to do $41.7 billion in sales this year, according to the National Restaurant Association. And the appetite for eating out is showing up in a big way at the Cypress Creek Town Center development that traverses State Road 56 just west of Interstate 75.

    The initial retail center on the northern portion of the development will include both Mellow Mushroom pizza and Chuy's Tex-Mex restaurants, according to Pasco County building permit records....

    Mellow Mushroom will be one of the new tenants in a retail center under construction in the Cypress Creek Town Center north of State Road 56 in Pasco County. Each Mellow Mushroom restaurant has a unique design and usually features locally sourced art.
Courtesy of Mellow Mushroom
  5. County, builders reach compromise on impact fee increase for Pasco schools


    DADE CITY — The monthslong back and forth over how to pay for new schools took a timeout Tuesday after the Pasco County School District, the Tampa Bay Builders Association and the county's legal staff negotiated a three-year, $3,500 increase in the charge for new single-family homes.

    The accord, reached on the eve of a County Commission public hearing on the impact fee ordinance, prompted the commission to delay its final vote until August to meet legal advertising requirements....

    The Pasco School District asked for a higher impact fee on new home construction to raise $121 million over the next 10 years for new classrooms. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  6. Budget windfall allows Pasco to end beach parking fee

    Local Government

    DADE CITY — It's no longer going to cost $2 to visit Pasco County's beaches.

    On Tuesday, commissioners agreed to spend a portion of a $3 million budget windfall by ending the parking fee at nine coastal and wilderness parks. Commissioners left in place the $5 charge to park boat trailers at the county's boat ramps.

    The elimination of the parking fees does not apply to the privately operated SunWest Park near Aripeka....

    Pasco commisssioners agreed Tuesday to kill the $2 fee to park at county coastal and wilderness parks that has been in place since 2010. The $5 fee to park at the county's boat ramps will remain in place. The change is effective at the start of the new fiiscal year Oct. 1.
Times staff (2016).
  7. Kelly Smith to challenge Pasco Commissioner Mike Moore


    Kelly Smith, 42, of Wesley Chapel, a child advocate and a former government zoning administrator, is seeking the District 2 Pasco County Commission seat held by incumbent Republican Mike Moore.

    Smith, a Democrat, moved to the county in 2008 from Naples. She said the 2016 national election inspired her candidacy.

    “Just as it did for many Americans, the 2016 election outcome sparked my desire to become more involved in politics. Those elected to represent us no longer reflect a variety of viewpoints or experiences. I also don’t see many elected officials operating from the basic belief that it is their responsibility to care about all people and to make decisions that improve the quality of life for everyone,’’ she said in a released statement. “I was raised to believe that you can’t complain if you’re not willing to work towards a solution. With that, I couldn’t sit by and not get involved.”...

  8. Pasco gun range dispute pits environmental stewardship versus officer readiness


    DADE CITY — Two years ago, amid a flurry of budget vetoes, Gov. Rick Scott spared a $1 million appropriation for Pasco-Hernando State College. Legislators sought the money, at the behest of Sheriff Chris Nocco, for refurbishing and modernizing the gun range at the police academy at the college's east Pasco campus.

    The state-of-the-art facility reopened in January. But less than six months later, Nocco publicly asked Pasco commissioners to develop the county's own gun range for his agency. It will require a roughly $855,000 payment to the county's utility fund for nearly 10 acres of utility-owned land abutting the trash-to-energy incinerator in Shady Hills, plus the cost of building the range, which has not been disclosed....

    Sheriff Chris Nocco is asking for the county’s own gun range.
  9. Democrat to challenge incumbent Pasco Commissioner Wells


    Social worker Brandi Geoit has filed to run for the Pasco County Commission seat held by incumbent Republican Mike Wells Jr. 

    Geoit, 41, is executive director of the West Coast AIDS Foundation and  vice president of the Pasco County National Organization for Women. A Democrat, she lives in the Embassy Hills area of west Pasco. 

    Earlier this month, she was one of the public speakers at a stakeholders meeting on a proposed one-stop homeless navigation center to be located in the shuttered Boys & Girls Club buildings on Youth Lane. Geoit urged the county to proceed with the plan and asked objecting neighbors to reconsider their opposition. ...

  10. Wesley Chapel, Greater Pasco chambers of commerce merge


    LAND O'LAKES — Two chambers of commerce representing more than 850 business members from west Pasco to Wesley Chapel and New Tampa are merging into a single organization.

    The Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Pasco Chamber of Commerce, formerly known as the Trinity Odessa chamber, are combining, the groups announced Wednesday morning. The entity, still unnamed, will be headed by Hope Allen, president and CEO of the Wesley Chapel chamber, and will operate under that chamber's bylaws and organizational structure....

    Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Hope Allen will lead the combined chambers of commerce announced Wednesday. The yet-to-be-named chamber will represent more than 850 businesses that currenlty are members of the Greater Pasco and Greater Wesley Chapel chambers.
[JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]
  11. Boutique grocer eyes Pasco's Cypress Creek Town Center


    Tennessee-based Hutton Development is proposing a boutique grocery store at the northeast corner of State Road 56 and Wesley Chapel Boulevard, in the northern portion of Cypress Creek Town Center.

    The location, which has a Lutz address, puts it across the street from a proposed Aldi grocery store at the southwest corner of the same intersection.

    "There is a retail grocery that we'd like to get. One of the new fad of grocers, I guess you would call it,'' landowner Robert Sierra said about the latest proposal....

    Tennessee-based Hutton Development is proposing a 23,820-square-foot boutique grocery store in the Cypress Creek Town Center development in central Pasco. The land owner declined to identify the store.
  12. Expanded library hours, added public safety highlight Pasco's proposed budget

    Local Government

    NEW PORT RICHEY — For the first time in three years, Pasco commissioners considered a proposed county budget that matched recurring spending with available revenue.

    It didn't last long.

    Instead of an austere budget, with enough money for employee raises and little else in new general fund spending, commissioners dipped into a reserve account for a multimillion-dollar spending spree. The proposed 2017-18 budget now includes money to: keep libraries open longer; add ambulance service in Trilby and west Pasco; bolster elderly nutrition; turn an empty building in Dade City into a one-stop community center for needy youth; double the size of employee raises, and honor all of the spending requests from Sheriff Chris Nocco, Elections Supervisor Brian Corley, Clerk of the Circuit Court & Comptroller Paula S. O'Neil and Property Appraiser Gary Joiner....

    The proposed Pasco County fire department budget contains funding for a platform fire truck and 15 new employees to staff it to use on high-rise buildings and to better battle brush fires like the May fire in the Starkey Wilderness Preserve.
  13. Burger King, Wawa proposed for new Land O'Lakes development


    A corner in Land O'Lakes could become a Home of the Whopper.

    Brightwork Crossing, the mixed-use development near the northwest corner of State Road 54 and Wesley Chapel Boulevard, is poised to include a Burger King restaurant, a Wawa convenience store and a Firestore tire and auto center, according to plans filed with Pasco County.

    Representatives of Quality Dining, which operates 158 Burger King restaurants in Florida, Indiana and Michigan, are scheduled to meet with Pasco County planners next week to discuss their proposed 3,349-square-foot restaurant. It would be the third Burger King in the vicinity, joining restaurants at the northwest corner of Bruce B. Downs Boulevard and SR 54 in Wesley Chapel and at County Line Road and Bruce B. Downs, just south of County Line Road in New Tampa....

    A 3,349-square-foot Burger King could be coming to Brightwork Crossing, the mixed-use development near the northwest corner of State Road 54 and Wesley Chapel Boulevard. [Miami Herald, 2005]
  14. Bowen: Pasco County tries to navigate pitfalls of homelessness


    The descriptions ranged from criminals to drug addicts to alcoholics to panhandlers. At least nobody said bums.

    Others characterized Pasco's homeless population as unemployed, down on their luck, parents, neighbors. Or simply, human beings.

    The divergent declarations — none of which should be construed as entirely inaccurate — were tossed about last week amid a group of four dozen people hashing out the pros and cons of turning the shuttered Boys & Girls Club headquarters and teen center on Youth Lane in west Pasco into a center for homeless services....

    The Coalition for the Homeless of Pasco County reported 2,512 homeless people in the county during its count in January including 418 considered chronically homeless. Additionally, the school district estimated 565 unsheltered children in 308 households. Pasco County and the coalition want to open a one-stop service center for the homeless known as a navigation center in the former Boys & Girls Club buildings on Youth Lane in west Pasco. Neighbors are objecting.
Times files (2013)
  15. Hawkes to run for seat on Pasco County bench


    Jeremiah Hawkes, the top civilian in the Pasco Sheriff's Office, is running for a seat on the Pasco County Court bench in 2018. 

    Hawkes, 40, is the son of Paul Hawkes, a lobbyist and former 1st District Court of Appeal judge. The elder Hawkes resigned from the bench in 2011 as he faced a Judicial Qualifications Commission ethics trial over his role in obtaining state financing for a posh $50 million courthouse dubbed the Taj Mahal for its excessive accoutrements....