NEW PORT RICHEY — A proposed 68-home community off clogged State Road 54 cleared another bureaucratic hurdle Wednesday, and this time there was much less opposition from neighbors.
Woodland Reserve, a 40-acre project just east of traffic nightmare SR 54 and Interstate 75, got the green light from the county Planning Commission after developers offered concessions to residents of nearby Citrus Trace and Saddle Ridge Estates. The property is owned by the Martha Wood family trust; a retired dentist is developing it.
Neighbors in those areas had raised concerns at last month's Planning Commission meeting about traffic in an already congested area, as well as crowded schools and crime they said more high density housing would generate. After hearing them out, planning commissioners told the developer to meet with the neighbors to try to work out a compromise.
Wednesday, developers' representatives returned with a list of things they were willing to do to make the development more palatable, including promising that nothing would happen until State Road 54, now four lanes, is widened to six. That is not scheduled to happen until 2009.
They also agreed to repair potholes on an access road and resurface it to county standards when the construction is complete. In addition, developers agreed to build a 20-foot buffer on one side, as well as a berm or fence and extensive landscaping, except on wetlands.
"This is going good," Saddle Ridge resident Jamie Winsett whispered to a neighbor as she gave a thumbs-up during the meeting.
Jerry Figurski, the attorney representing the land owners, said his clients always wanted to do the right thing.
"The Woods are extremely interested in doing a great project and listening to citizens' concerns," he said.
But Albert Dionne, whose one-story home in Citrus Trace would abut a row of homes in Woodland Reserve, said he's worried that those new homes will be two stories, robbing him of privacy.
"I'm still suspicious," he said.
The measure still needs final approval from the County Commission.
Lisa Buie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 909-4604.