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Developer wants to annex property, build new homes in Safety Harbor

SAFETY HARBOR — Developers are asking to turn a former auto salvage and dump site into a tree-lined cul-de-sac with one- and two-story homes.

The proposed neighborhood at 2805 Rigsby Lane, south of State Road 580 and east of McMullen-Booth Road, would include 21 homes on five acres of land. The homes would sell for roughly $300,000 each.

Tarpon Springs-based Pioneer Homes will discuss the development at Monday's Safety Harbor City Commission meeting while seeking annexation into the city.

"Safety Harbor has done a wonderful job of maintaining a nice community, and this property would contribute to that," said George Zutes, a cofounder of Pioneer Homes. "We want to be good neighbors."

He declined to comment on the financial scope of the project or give details about Pioneer's purchase of the property, which is pending. The purchase price will be public once the deal is closed.

The land is in an unincorporated area. Pioneer Homes is asking commissioners to annex it into Safety Harbor so residents can hook up to the city's utilities.

The development would be near the Bermuda Court and North Bay Hills subdivisions, both in Safety Harbor. They are quiet neighborhoods with modest, quaint homes.

Lu Garrett, 61, who lives in Bermuda Court, has a woodsy view through her sliding glass door and over the back yard fence. Soon she may see rooftops rather than trees.

Even so, said Garrett, who's lived in her home since 1994, a new development is probably the best thing that could happen to the property, which is now zoned for heavy manufacturing and industry.

"We always knew eventually the land would be developed," she said. "If it's single-family homes, then I'm all for it."

Sandra Romaniello, 71, also of Bermuda Court, said she and her husband lived behind the junk yard for decades.

"This would be good for all of us here," she said. "Anything to improve it would be fine."

Pioneer Homes has built dozens of developments in the Tampa Bay area and is now constructing Osprey Ridge and Harbor Ridge in Palm Harbor.

It doesn't seem to be the case here, but often new developments incite community controversy.

In February, Safety Harbor Mayor Joseph Ayoub and city commissioners angered their constituents by approving an apartment complex, by different developers, on State Road 590 at McMullen-Booth Road, home of the defunct Firmenich Citrus Plant.

"We've been involved in controversy before, but the neighbors seem to like the idea and the city seems to be in favor of it," Zutes said. "We think this will work well in the area."

Contact Brittany Alana Davis at bdavis@tampabay.com or 850-323-0353. To write a letter to the editor, visit tampabay.com/letters.

Developer wants to annex property, build new homes in Safety Harbor 03/14/13 [Last modified: Thursday, March 14, 2013 7:23pm]
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