Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Sunset Lane residents object to new school

LUTZ — Mike White printed fliers that he and other worried neighbors distributed to hundreds of homes off Sunset Lane, a busy, two-lane road.

The door-to-door blitz brought out dozens of residents to a Hills­borough County zoning meeting this week, many wearing T-shirts that urged, "No School on Sunset!''

They asked hearing master Steve Luce to deny a special land use permit that would allow Learning Gate charter school to build a high school with an entrance off Sunset Lane.

Speaking in front of a packed hearing room at County Center, White cited studies that the school's impact would increase traffic on Sunset Lane by 38.2 percent during peak hours in peak season. Combined with the vehicles dropping off and picking up at Lutz Learning Center, which is directly across the street, the volume would increase 60 percent during peak hours, he said.

Sunset Lane serves as the main access road for police, fire and paramedics between U.S. 41 and neighborhoods to the east, said White, a Tampa Fire Rescue captain.

"To increase its traffic load will result in longer response times and increased danger to residents and motorists," he said.

Others complained that the school plans to build its main entrance — off U.S. 41 — across a wetland. And some residents worried about the school's consumption of water in an area that relies on wells, fearing that will lead to more sinkholes.

Almost as many people turned out to support the school, to be called Gates High School. A number of them live in other parts of the county as well as Pasco County and are drawn to Learning Gate because of its excellent reputation. Learning Gate operates a kindergarten through sixth-grade school on Hanna Avenue and is leasing another building on U.S. 41 for seventh through 10th grades. Gates High School is expected to eventually have 1,000 students.

Patti Girard, executive director of the Learning Gate Education Foundation, said the school will stagger the times that each grade arrives and departs to ease the burden on Sunset Lane. An engineer on the development team said turn lanes would be added on Sunset.

Addressing environmental concerns, Girard said the school wants to use the wetlands as a teaching tool, so most of the 62 acres will stay in its natural state.

Yvette Robitaille, who lives in the neighborhood, warned that a developer less sensitive to the needs of wetlands could buy there if the school isn't allowed. She fears it could become an eyesore, mentioning a stalled development at Livingston Avenue and Max Smith Road.

"That property now sits empty, with infrastructure and weeds,'' she said.

The planning staff found the Gates proposal to be consistent with the county's comprehensive plan, and the project has received initial approval by the county Environmental Protection Commission. Luce asked the developers to provide proof that the owner of adjacent property will allow an easement to build the access road off U.S. 41.

Luce has 15 working days to make his decision. The losing side can appeal his ruling to the Land Use Appeals Board.

Philip Morgan can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3435.

Sunset Lane residents object to new school 05/17/12 [Last modified: Thursday, May 17, 2012 4:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa's Lance McCullers shows killer instinct in pitching Astros to World Series

    Ml

    HOUSTON — It felt like the beginning on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park, the arrival of a new force on the World Series stage. The Astros are back, for the first time in a dozen years, and they want to stay a while.

    Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers (43) throwing in the fifth inning of the game between the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, July 12, 2015.
  2. Jones: Where are the difference-makers on the Bucs defense?

    Bucs

    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — They can't tackle. They can't cover. They can't pressure the quarterback, let alone sack him.

    Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor (5) scrambles past Bucs defensive tackle Clinton McDonald (98) during the first half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  3. Bucs-Bills journal: Breakout game for Bucs tight end O.J. Howard

    Bucs

    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — It's obscured by the final score and a disappointing loss, but Bucs rookie tight end O.J. Howard had a breakout game Sunday, exceeding his season totals for catches and touchdowns in one afternoon.

    Bucs tight end O.J. Howard (80) celebrates a touchdown catch with quarterback Jameis Winston (3) during the second half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  4. Vladislav Namestnikov is Lightning's top-line 'secret'

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Nikita Kucherov is piling up the goals. Steven Stamkos is an assist machine. They make for an impressive pairing in a league that favors scoring pairs over the more traditional three-player scoring lines.

    Vladislav Namestnikov (90) has three goals and 10 points on a line with Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov.
  5. Bucs-Bills report card: Grading the Bucs' 30-27 loss at Buffalo

    Bucs

    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Hard to believe, but this was only the second time in their history that the Bucs played a regular-season game in Buffalo. After Sunday loss, they wouldn't mind going another 40 years without playing here again.

    Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter, seen during the first half, had a heck of a day calling plays, Tom Jones writes. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]