Saturday, April 21, 2018
Business

Plan would turn former Elfers grove into residential, commercial development

ELFERS — Pasco County officials are hoping a onetime grove near the Anclote River is about to be fruitful again.

The 216 acres at the corner of State Road 54 and Madison Street near New Port Richey — land that continued to produce citrus even after the area surrounding it urbanized decades earlier — is considered a key in-fill development site in western Pasco. Last week, commissioners approved plans to turn the former grove into a neighborhood of 425 single-family homes, plus commercial and office space and 46 acres of preserve along the edge of the river.

"This is going to be a game changer,'' said Matt Armstrong, executive planner for the county's long-range planning department.

The property, now filled with pine trees, sits among residential developments of the 1970s like Colonial Hills, Tanglewood Terrace and Virginia City and is adjacent to Anclote Elementary School. The community of Elfers, an actual incorporated city from 1925 to 1933, has roughly 14,000 residents but is an area that has been void of significant private investment for decades. The annual median household income is just a little more than $33,000, or 25 percent less than the county average. Meanwhile, the area just a few miles to the east has flourished after former ranch land was developed into Trinity.

"We're just thrilled to see somebody putting good money to use in the area, and we hope it lifts all boats,'' said attorney Clarke Hobby, who represents the landowner, DCH Groves Inc., a Tampa company controlled by the family of the late citrus growers O.J. and Doris Harvey.

This isn't the first time the Harvey family has targeted the land for development. Eight years ago, the county authorized a change in its comprehensive plan to allow more than 1,000 residences, mostly apartments, plus commercial and light industrial space.

That plan drew objections from Pinellas County environmentalists, who feared the development could taint the Anclote River. Likewise, the city of Tarpons Springs urged Pasco to "ensure, at a minimum, that water quality is not degraded and ideally, that water quality is improved with this and future developments.''

Businessman Lux DeVoid, who lived in Holiday at the time and owned two vacant lots on the south side of the river, challenged state approval of the amended comprehensive plan. The sides settled, with the county agreeing to require extra river protections.

DeVoid, who now lives in Temple Terrace and owns the Mermaid Tavern in Tampa's Seminole Heights neighborhood, said last week he was unaware the project was again proceeding.

"It's good to hear there's no industrial. I think that was the biggest concern of all because of the runoff,'' he said.

There has been no opposition this time around, with the only comment during a commission public hearing coming from Kelly Miller, president of the neighboring Colonial Hills Civic Association.

"They did a very, very remarkable job in bringing this new infrastructure to west Pasco,'' Miller told commissioners.

It also could open the door for eco-tourism and recreational possibilities because the preserved land along the river could become a county park. Commissioner Kathryn Starkey said she hoped the county could someday acquire the property on the south side of the river, too, to create a kayak launching site and other public amenities.

Comments
Some people are paying for cuddles. And it’s not what you might think.

Some people are paying for cuddles. And it’s not what you might think.

When Samantha Hess’s marriage ended five years ago, she felt she was lacking a basic human need: Physical touch. As a woman in her late 20s living in Portland, Oregon, she found plenty of men interested in dating, but sexual contact was not what she ...
Published: 04/21/18
Judge: Foreclosure defense lawyer Mark Stopa violated numerous rules of conduct

Judge: Foreclosure defense lawyer Mark Stopa violated numerous rules of conduct

Tampa Bay foreclosure defense lawyer Mark Stopa has violated numerous rules of professional conduct and caused two clients to nearly lose their homes because he failed to tell them about settlement offers from their banks. Those were among the prelim...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/21/18
Goodwill to open second store in greater Brandon

Goodwill to open second store in greater Brandon

Times staffThe greater Brandon area will celebrate the grand opening of its second Goodwill store beginning at 9 a.m. on Saturday (April 28) at 1407 U.S. 301. The new store will add another 12,000 square feet to the complex, which includes a 200,000-...
Published: 04/20/18
Updated: 04/21/18
Regulators allow major solar company to lease home equipment

Regulators allow major solar company to lease home equipment

State regulators Friday determined that one of the country’s largest residential solar companies, San Francisco-based Sunrun, is allowed to lease solar energy equipment for homes in Florida. The decision, solar energy advocates say, could open the do...
Published: 04/20/18
Florida unemployment at 3.9 percent for sixth straight month

Florida unemployment at 3.9 percent for sixth straight month

For the sixth month running, Florida’s unemployment rate held at a nearly 11-year low of 3.9 percent in March as steady job gains continued. While many factors kept Florida’s economy chugging along, three industries stand out for leading year-over-ye...
Published: 04/20/18
Owners say new house is a disaster; developer accuses them of ‘online terrorism’

Owners say new house is a disaster; developer accuses them of ‘online terrorism’

ST. PETERSBURG --- Stretched across the front of Tim and Hyun Kims’ two-year-old house is a big banner with the name of a developer and the words: "I have to fix my new house."Some of what needs fixing is instantly apparent. The front steps are too ...
Published: 04/20/18
Florida hits a milestone: More than 100,000 people are registered to use medical marijuana here

Florida hits a milestone: More than 100,000 people are registered to use medical marijuana here

Florida has hit a milestone of sorts as it slowly moves toward wider availability of medical marijuana.The number of patients in the state who are registered to use the substance has surpassed 100,000 for the first time, according to Florida Departme...
Published: 04/20/18
Q&A: Walmart leader chats about Florida stores, and the chain’s latest retail strategy

Q&A: Walmart leader chats about Florida stores, and the chain’s latest retail strategy

The Tampa Bay Times recently sat down with Walmart director of corporate communications Phillip Keene to chat about the retail giant’s latest retail strategies and how the company is winning over customers in a competitive market.Already, two of the ...
Published: 04/20/18
SunTrust warns 1.5 million clients of potential data breach

SunTrust warns 1.5 million clients of potential data breach

Associated PressNEW YORK — SunTrust Banks Inc. says accounts for 1.5 million clients could be compromised following a potential data breach. The Atlanta bank says that it became aware of the potential theft by a former employee and that the investiga...
Published: 04/20/18
Spring break, hurricane relief boosted Tampa Bay hotels in March

Spring break, hurricane relief boosted Tampa Bay hotels in March

The Tampa Bay area’s hotel occupancy rate rose to 87.5 percent in March, the highest level in three years. The rise was fueled by spring break vacationers as well as insurance adjusters and hurricane cleanup crews flooding the state to restore it aft...
Published: 04/20/18