FHP, local landowners debate over new track being built

FHP, local landowners debate over new track being built
FHP, local landowners debate over new track being built
Posted at 5:45 PM, May 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-04 17:45:00-04

GADSDEN COUNTY, Fla. (WTXL) - Gadsden County Commissioners look to reach a win-win solution for Florida Highway Patrol and local Landowners, but it's looking to be a tough sell.

"The dilemma is that they proposed to build a high speed test to train policeman how to drive at high speeds 57 feet from my property line," said landowner Paul Hoppes.

Paul Hoppes plans to build 200 single family homes on 300 acres of land. Florida Highway Patrol wants to build a specialized track.

"We've been working to build a driving track and a larger driving facility out at the Florida Public Safety Institute where we're co-located and conduct all of our training," said Mark Brown of FHP.

FHP would use the track to teach state troopers how to speed safely. Its presence would mean transient funds for the county, when the visiting officers stay in hotels for training.

"It happens to be adjacent to the most viable part of my property for single family affordable housing," said Hoppes.

Adding affordable housing to Gadsden County gives families more options to live in Gadsden County, and it brings the much needed revenue that comes with new residents.

"It would make a dramatic difference to the Gadsden County community to have the residential housing available to them, that is affordable and it is currently unavailable," said Hoppes.

Having the two next-door to each other is what developers call incompatible.

The commission wants the parties to reach a suitable compromise without them having to intervene.

The parties have agreed upon adding a vegetative buffer, a hedge of trees, to lessen the sound of the sirens. There's also been talk of limiting the number of days the track could be used as well as its operating hours.

FHP even offered to revisit the idea of not using sirens until after the housing development breaks ground. Still, the two were unable to reach an agreement.

Gadsden County Commissioners are giving them more time to work together before they reconvene for a decision next month.

If FHP is permitted to build the track, it will be utilized by roughly 1,600-1,700 members of their patrol.