WESLEY CHAPEL — Cypress Creek, the state protected waterway that grabbed headlines when its pollution led to the temporary shutdown of the Cypress Creek Town Center mall project, returned to the radar of the county's top staff planners Thursday as they approved changes to a 451-apartment complex near the creek.
Neighbors raised fears that the construction runoff from the Greystar at Cypress Creek apartment project would pollute the creek, and called for the boundary of a retention pond at the eastern edge of the complex nearest the creek to be pulled farther westward.
County planners didn't issue a final ruling Thursday, but have scheduled a workshop on June 3 at 1 p.m. at the West Pasco Government Center to address the delineation of wildlife corridor boundary lines around the creek.
But County Administrator John Gallagher gave notice to Greystar, pointing to what happened with Cypress Creek Town Center, which had to suspend development after multiple incidents of its construction runoff polluting the creek.
"Don't put all your money in and then get shut down," Gallagher said. "Spend a little extra time on it now."
Neighbors pointed out a frequently flooding pond on the northern part of the Greystar property today that empties into the creek.
"When you're building (451) units, you're covering 80 percent of the land," said neighbor Jack Taylor. "Is it going to eventually end up in the creek?"
Peter Petricca, Greystar's attorney, told reporters the developer is well aware of the risks.
"We are taking every step to be proactive," he said. "We're in the process of hiring an erosion control consultant ... to make sure we don't have the same thing happen on our site."
The development still needs a permit from the Southwest Florida Water Management District, and its construction plan needs final approval from the county's Development Review Committee.
Greystar hopes to get its apartments up by fall 2009, Petricca said. County planners told the developer that it must complete road improvements on Cypress Creek Road by the time it gets its building permit. But they spared Greystar from having to cut a road connection to a northern site, which shares a private access road with about six existing homes. Neighbors there didn't want Greystar residents to use that private road to get to the apartment complex.
In other matters Thursday, county planners approved:
• The stormwater management plan for an office park at Bexley Ranch, the 7,000-acre development in northern Land O'Lakes.
• The site plan for Trinity Square, a 10-acre commercial project at Little Road and Mitchell Boulevard. The development will be home to an unnamed fitness center and a restaurant.
• The site location for a new elementary school, temporarily called Elementary School "O" at Hicks Road and Carl Street, a mile north of State Road 52.
Chuin-Wei Yap can be reached at email@example.com or (813)909-4613.