TOWN 'N COUNTRY — An apartment complex at W Hillsborough Avenue and Countryway Boulevard is going condo and — well — clothing-optional.
The Eden, on its Web site, says it will soon allow nudity in a "private European/South Beach style swimming pool and spa area."
That might fly in central Pasco, home of Caliente, Paradise Lakes and other nudist resorts.
But that's not necessarily cool in Westchase, the manicured, family-friendly community just north of the Eden. One concerned homeowner, who declined to be quoted, sent an e-mail to that effect that is making the rounds among leaders of the taxing district and the Westchase Community Association.
Another resident, who could not be reached for comment, has consulted Hillsborough County offices to see if Eden has the right permits. The complex is about a mile from Alonso High School.
Former homeowner president Brian Ross learned the news from a St. Petersburg Times reporter, and he wasn't happy.
"It would seem to me that the process has failed in that there has not been greater notification to the surrounding communities about this possibility," Ross said.
County officials were unavailable for comment on Tuesday as government offices were closed because of Tropical Storm Fay.
But Debbie Carter, spokeswoman for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, said the complex does not appear to be breaking any laws. "It looks like they're taking every necessary precaution," she said. "They're going to have walls and everything else. Unless they're committing crimes out there, I don't see this as a law enforcement issue."
Ashley Norman, who handles publicity for the Eden, said "intense landscaping changes" are under way to ensure the pool and the nudists "will be completely secluded." Only residents older than 18 will be issued pass keys to enter. "So it's not going to be an open area," she said.
Public sex will not be allowed.
Still, Ross said, "I personally am strongly opposed to it."
Condo officials say the Westchase homeowners need not worry about property values.
"If their concern is how this amenity will affect their community, on a real estate level, it'll only help increase the traffic and interest for all neighboring communities," said the Eden project manager Peter Mead.
Neither Mead nor Norman knew how many condos had been sold as of Tuesday, but the buzz has been strong, they said. They say they have received inquiries from around the country and abroad about the units, which range from $170,000 to $380,000.
At least one Westchase official was unfazed by his community's prospective neighbor. "If someone wanted to have nude swimming at a private condominium at Hillsborough and Countryway, it really wouldn't bother me in the least," said Greg Chesney, the chairman of Westchase's taxing district. "It's not a part of our community. It's their business."
Rodney Thrash can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 269-5303.