tourism scallops

In this file photo, visitors returning from scalloping in the Gulf of Mexico make a trip to the headwaters of the Homosassa River to douse themselves and their equipment with fresh water before heading home. 

Citrus County commissioners will consider asking state officials to extend the year-round slow speed zone on the Homosassa River between Monkey Island and Marker 7.

Commissioner Jeff Kinnard said boating traffic in that section of the river has increased to the point that it’s dangerous for humans and manatees to have 25 mph speed zones in the summer months.

Kinnard said recent complaints about boaters disturbing riverfront property owners with loud music and disruptive behavior are helping to fuel the plan.

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“Maybe that will help settle things down there a little bit,” he said.

Kinnard’s proposal has support in Homosassa, civic club president Terry Green said.

“It’s significant to a lot of our friends who live on the Homosassa,” he said. “We’ve been to their homes and out on their docks and have witnessed how these boats fly through there, creating wakes that come up over the seawall.”

That section of the river is slow speed Oct. 1-April 30, and 25 mph the other half of the year.

In a proposed letter to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission, or FWC, the county writes: “We believe with the increase in manatee presence shown over the years, coupled with the vast increase in boaters utilizing this area, that this seasonal zone should be reevaluated for the protection of manatees and changed to a year-round slow speed manatee zone.”

Tuesday’s board meeting begins at 1 p.m. in the Citrus County Courthouse, 110 N. Apopka Ave., Inverness. A 9 a.m. code compliance workshop will precede the regular meeting.

The meeting agenda includes:

• Vote on approving a multi-use path along Oak Park Boulevard connecting Corkwood Boulevard with the Suncoast Parkway multi-use path. The approximate cost is $36,853.

• Vote on approving $150,000 in CARES Act funds to United Way of Citrus County.

• Approve grant application to buy body cameras for Citrus County Sheriff’s Office deputies. The grant is for $221,000; the sheriff’s match would also be $221,000.

• Commissioner Holly Davis is recommending a policy addressing commissioners travel and reimbursement. Davis’s proposal is for each commissioner to have his or her own travel account. Right now, the five commissioners split a $16,000 annual travel budget, according to the agenda backup.

Davis’s agenda item includes a proposed regulation that spells out the circumstances for county-funded travel.

County commissioners rarely question their own board travel. In 2019, in response to then-Commissioner Jimmie T. Smith attending conferences out of state, commissioners voted to require board approval for out-of-state travel.

Contact Chronicle reporter Mike Wright at 352-563-3228 or mwright@chronicleonline.com. To view more of his stories, go to www.tinyurl.com/y3bakm6w.

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