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New store would flood area, neighbor says

NEW PORT RICHEY — Calling it "blight," a neighbor of the proposed Suncoast Commercial Center northeast of State Road 54 and the future Ashley Glen Boulevard said Thursday that an incoming grocery store would threaten the area's environmental and business climate.

Suncoast Commercial Center is proposing a 66,000-square-foot grocery and shopping strip on 37 acres, just next to a proposed major employment center, the Ashley Glen office park. A sign at the site identifies the proposed grocery store as a Sweetbay.

It also sits near Octavio Blanco's family home in Odessa, and Blanco thinks what Suncoast's developer, Win-Suncoast Ltd., plans to do will flood the area.

"This grocery will be built into a sandy branch of the Anclote River, and it will involve moving the river," he told the county's top staff planners Thursday. "It violates federal standards."

Blanco sued the development in administrative court, but lost. But the project now needs scrutiny from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers before it can proceed.

That's how the Pasco Development Review Committee approved Suncoast Commercial Center on Thursday: Go ahead with the project, but get the corps' blessing.

Blanco also said Win-Suncoast treated its site as a ditch, rather than a river. He said "the U.S. calls it a river."'

He said that Fortune 500 companies potentially interested in Ashley Glen would not be interested because a grocery would front the site. In this context, Blanco called the grocery a "blight."

But Matthew Campo, Suncoast's engineer, refuted Blanco.

"I am not aware of any document that identifies this as a river," Campo said. "For him to say it's a river, that's his opinion. We have not seen it documented."

In other matters Thursday:

• Terra Bella, a residential project on State Road 54 in Land O'Lakes, which today is still 205 acres of flattened land, got approval for a two-story, 32,000-square-foot medical office building called Florida Medical.

• New Walgreens pharmacies are slated to be added in central and east Pasco. One is destined for the northeastern corner of Dean Dairy Road and SR 54, just outside Zephyrhills. The other is headed for the Connerton neighborhood at Pleasant Plains Parkway and U.S. 41.

• County planners approved the site of a high school, called "III," proposed at Eiland Boulevard and Handcart Road just outside Zephyrhills. Anticipated for 1,800 students, the school isn't likely to open for another decade, planners said.

Chuin-Wei Yap can be reached at cyap@sptimes.com or (813)909-4613.

New store would flood area, neighbor says 06/26/08 [Last modified: Friday, June 27, 2008 9:24am]
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