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Plan for upscale Westchase apartments draws opposition

WESTCHASE — A Columbus, Ga., developer wants to rezone 85 acres east of Davidsen Middle and build 434 upscale apartments on the property by 2010, according to documents filed with Hillsborough County.

Thomas Holdings LLC, owns the property, west of Sheldon Road, east of Montague Street and north of Bridgeton Drive. It is designated for agricultural, single-family use. Flournoy Development Co. LLC, wants to change that to make way for its proposed complex, the Windsor at Westchase.

The possibility of apartments concerns homeowners and government leaders. They don't want their community name attached to something they say will overcrowd their schools, congest their roads, disrupt their quiet and disturb their wetlands.

The county has received 30 letters of opposition to the Windsor proposal. Most came from home­owners along Bayboro Bridge Drive, which borders the proposed development.

Timothy and Michele Mason wrote in an e-mail that they were concerned about potential environmental impacts. There are about 38 acres of wetlands on the eastern and southern portions of the site and a number of trees.

"These pockets of agricultural, conservation and lake areas offer balance and beauty in our lives and are the homes of our wildlife," the Masons said. "If we allow these hot pieces of land to all be developed upon, we will end up with a concrete jungle and the ramifications would be unimaginable."

An e-mail from Dr. Adele B. McCollum said the area's major roads wouldn't be able to handle the flood of cars that would come with the new residents.

"Traffic on Sheldon is already difficult, and an additional 400 to 600 families will undoubtedly stress the school system," she said. "Enough is enough."

Until transportation and other issues are resolved, Hillsborough Planning and Growth Management staffers say the Board of County Commissioners should deny Flournoy's request.

The Westchase Community Association, which represents the area's more than 3,500 homes, isn't a fan of the project, either. Its board unanimously opposed more apartments and sent a letter to the county saying as much.

"The continued development in the northwest Hillsborough County quadrant without infrastructure, roadways, school capacity and services capable of meeting that development must be re-evaluated," president Carlos Quiros said.

But in papers filed with the county, Flournoy said Westchase already has a mix of multiuse family dwellings like the one its company is suggesting.

That is exactly why Dawn de la Vega said she hopes commissioners vote down the developer's request. She owns Highland Lake, a condo conversion that is next to the proposed apartment project. She said a high number of vacancies proves "this is not necessary and would oversaturate and further hurt the housing market."

Flournoy has the backing of Thomas Holdings and the City-County Planning Commission. The latter agency says the proposal is consistent with the county's comprehensive plan, which determines where and what kind of construction is allowed.

The item goes before a Hillsborough zoning hearing master on Jan. 20, but commissioners will have the final say.

Rodney Thrash can be reached at rthrash@sptimes.com or (813) 269-5303.

IF YOU GO

Hearing Tuesday

A public hearing will take place at 6 p.m. Tuesday

at the County Center, 601 E Kennedy Blvd., second floor.

Plan for upscale Westchase apartments draws opposition 01/15/09 [Last modified: Thursday, January 15, 2009 3:30am]
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