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Developer's latest proposal for 266 homes near Blanton includes extra green space

DADE CITY — Developers of a hillside property across from Pasco-Hernando Community College are resubmitting plans that include extra buffering and larger lots near the edge that borders existing homes.

"This is a reasonable solution," said Michael Holbrook, director of planning for Bowyer Singleton & Associates Inc., an Orlando firm representing the property owners.

He is still proposing a 266-home community, but some homes that were set to be on 1-acre lots will now sit on 2 acres. He also has offered to install 300 feet of buffer, triple the initial amount, on the edge next to Platt Road.

The Development Review Committee will consider the proposal at its meeting at 1:30 p.m. Thursday in Dade City.

County staffers have recommended approval of the plan, which was first submitted in April to the committee, a group that includes top county administrators and a representative from the Pasco School District.

At that meeting, residents lined up to oppose the development, to be named Berry Hill Estates. County Administrator John Gallagher and the other committee members postponed a decision and urged Holbrook and the residents to craft a compromise.

Residents say they moved to the area to enjoy a rural lifestyle and are afraid dense development of the 403 acres would ruin that.

Developers proposed clustered homes in varying densities. The most dense section would put 121 lots on slightly more than 33 acres, while others called for half-acre, 1- and 2-acre, and a handful of 5-acre lots. The developers are seeking to offer a project similar to a "conservation subdivision" with a little more than half of the property set aside as green space.

Tanya Kaaa was among the residents who met with Holbrook earlier this month.

"Nothing was accomplished," she said. Kaaa said developers presented four options, none of them palatable and asked residents to write down their favorites and least favorites.

"It wasn't like we could all talk and come to a compromise," she said. "They had some choices for us, none of which we were happy with."

Kaaa said she favored the plan that would put 135 homes on the land, but Holbrook said those could be mobile homes.

"That plan was good if it were houses," she said.

Holbrook said he realizes not everyone will be satisfied.

"I was born in Florida," he said. "I understand this is their escape from the sprawl of Florida, and I think the challenge is they do not understand what it's going to look like when it's finished."

He said the talk of mobile homes wasn't being used as a scare tactic. Existing rules allow for that, and no prior approval would be necessary.

"The scary part is nothing could be done and you could have mobile homes on wells and septic tanks," he said.

County Commissioner Ted Schrader, who attended the meeting, didn't take sides, but said Friday that elected officials have the leeway to change the rules based on residents' concerns. The development must ultimately win approval from county commissioners if it passes muster with the county's top brass.

Just because rules set a maximum density doesn't mean a developer is entitled to it, he said.

"These people moved out there for a reason," he said. "I'm sure we'll come to some sort of resolution."

Lisa Buie can be reached at buie@sptimes.com or (813) 909-4604.

>>If you go

The next hurdle

What: Pasco County Development Review Committee meeting

When: 1:30 p.m. Thursday

Where: Pasco County Historic Courthouse, Dade City

More information: Visit www.pascocountyfl.net. Agendas and accompanying material are usually posted the day before the meeting.

Developer's latest proposal for 266 homes near Blanton includes extra green space 05/27/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 27, 2008 9:13pm]
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