BROOKSVILLE — In January, Hernando County planners warned that the project was urban sprawl and premature, while the county administrator urged caution because of a possible financial hit to the county.
A divided County Commission, however, voted to move the project forward.
Now, Florida's growth management agency, the Department of Community Affairs, has echoed warnings about Quarry Preserve, the new town proposed for 4,280 acres of former mining lands north of Brooksville.
The 44-page Objections, Recommendations and Comments report released Monday details concerns about environmental impacts of road, water and sewer infrastructure in an area far from such existing improvements.
It also questions the need for the massive multiuse development when so much other Hernando land is already approved for development and available to meet future residential needs.
In a letter to commission Chairman John Druzbick, DCA community planning director Charles Gauthier called the concerns "significant.''
He added: "The department recognizes the need for economic development opportunities and the disturbed nature of the site and is prepared to work with the county to determine if the concerns can be resolved.''
Quarry developer Brooksville Quarry LLC has proposed up to 5,800 residential units, up to 200 lodging units, up to 850,000 square feet of industrial or office park uses, up to 545,000 square feet of neighborhood and community retail spaces, up to three golf courses, and school, park, institutional and social facilities.
The land, 6 miles north of Brooksville, was mined over decades by Florida Rock Industries. If not developed, it would stay largely as unclaimed mining land, according to the developer.
The DCA report raised concerns in several categories including:
• There is a need for more analysis showing that the site is suitable for the proposed increase in development density and intensity. DCA also notes that the developer has not demonstrated that a proposed wildlife corridor will be enough to safeguard protected species.
• There are no proposed policies to address groundwater protection.
• The developer doesn't provide enough policies, guidelines and standards to ensure that the project functions like a new town rather than urban sprawl. The developer's proposal doesn't have a master plan that "demonstrates that project will be developed in a proportion, scale and fashion that will create an inter-dependence of land uses to provide economic opportunities, greater mobility and minimize external traffic.''
• DCA questions the analysis by the developer that concludes that by 2025, the county will need nearly 31,000 more homes to support its population. Using county figures, DCA concludes that the county already has enough vacant residential land to accommodate another 152,000 dwelling units.
• The developer didn't include information showing that enough water is available to serve the site. The project would also require the pumping of more than 2 million gallons of water daily in an area water management officials have said any future development "is likely to negatively affect the water resources of the area.''
DCA's recommendations include basing transportation data on "a professionally acceptable methodology'' and proving that sewer service can be delivered to the site and showing "how this can be accomplished in light of the aquifer recharge vulnerability of the site and ensure the protection of the underground water."
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at email@example.com or (352) 848-1434.