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Family planning controversial dump propose development near St. Leo

ST. LEO — On the east side of Dade City, the Iafrate family is seeking approval for a controversial 1,000-acre garbage dump.

Monday evening, their focus was west of Dade City, where they pitched a 200-acre mixed-use development they would like to build and annex into the town of St. Leo.

"We really want to create a pedestrian-oriented, people-oriented true town environment," Tom Levin, an architect for the project, told the town's commission.

What is now rolling hills and undeveloped pasture would become the site of 750 homes, 300,000 square feet of stores and 100,000 square feet of office space, according to plans.

Apartments, townhouses and single family homes would radiate from a lakeside downtown at State Road 52 and Prospect Road.

The majority of the property is outside St. Leo. The developers want to annex the rest, about 180 acres, into the town.

"If you accept what we're presenting to you, this gives the town certain benefits," said lawyer John Wendel. "The first benefit is control. You will be able to control the entirety of the project."

In more than an hour, Iafrate representatives promised about 30 percent of the development would be green space and they would do their best to preserve trees and hills.

They painted pictures of neighbors biking to each other's houses.

"(We want) to really create a community rather than just another project," Levin said.

Representatives told the commission that the project would add more than $240,000 to the town's tax base and create jobs.

"This would be a magnet for this area of the county," Wendel said.

He also told the commission that the Iafrate family would be financially responsible for the construction and initial maintenance of the development's infrastructure.

"There's no request before you for the town to spend any money for this development," Wendel said.

The development could add up to 1,500 residents to St. Leo, more than doubling the town's existing population, which includes the Saint Leo University campus.

The St. Leo Commission voted 3-2 to draft a new land use category that could allow a development like the Iafrates' project. Commissioners will decide later whether to include the new category into the town's comprehensive plan.

The new category does not guarantee that the development or annexation will be approved, it just gives the developers a framework to draft their plans.

"We can always be more restrictive," said Mayor James Hallet.

If approved, construction wouldn't start for at least 18 months. Developers said they want to wait until the proposed Clinton Avenue realignment, which would connect SR 52 and U.S. 301 and also bisect the development, is complete.

As for the Iafrates' other project across town, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection recently finished asking Angelo's Aggregate Materials — owned by the Iafrates — for information and have 90 days to say whether they plan to grant or deny the permit to build the landfill.

Helen Anne Travis can be reached at (813) 435-7312 or htravis@sptimes.com.

by the numbers

750 number of homes proposed.

300,000 square feet of stores proposed for the site.

100,000 square feet of office space proposed.

30 percent of the land would be green space, says the developer.

180 approximate acres outside St. Leo the developers hope to annex .

Family planning controversial dump propose development near St. Leo 10/14/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 14, 2008 9:59pm]
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