BROOKSVILLE — The large planned development known as Spring Center passed its last major hurdle Tuesday when the Hernando County Commission voted unanimously to rezone undeveloped land for the residential and commercial project billed as creating a downtown for Spring Hill.
At 450 acres, Spring Center could someday include 3,000 homes, up to 750,000 square feet of commercial space and as many as 250,000 square feet of office space.
The development would loop residential neighborhoods around a town center featuring businesses, private and governmental offices, and potentially a transit hub. It would include a 20-acre park and recreational walking and biking paths crisscrossing the community. It sets aside land for expanding Explorer K-8 School, which is perched at the northwest corner of the property.
The developer is TTG Properties, and the owners are Mark and Sharon Taylor. Mark Taylor is a former member of the county Planning and Zoning Commission.
Nearby residents have raised a myriad of concerns about Spring Center. They worry about increased traffic on already stressed roadways, especially around the school. They’ve spoken out about the loss of wildlife habitat, increased noise and disturbances during construction, and the potential loss of property values.
There was little public comment on Tuesday, but 22-year Spring Hill resident Thomas Bentine wrote to commissioners that he had all of those worries.
"You have done this in the past, so you would think you should have learned some from past mistakes, but yet again, I don’t think any of you live here,’’ he said. "Meanwhile, for the next 20 years, I can listen to construction work five days a week.’’
The Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce supported the development in a letter submitted to the commission last month.
Coastal Engineering officials, representing the owner, argued before the Planning and Zoning Commission and the County Commission that a planned development district gives the county more control over what the community will look like. The alternative would be a repeat of Spring Hill’s one-subdivision-at-a-time development pattern.
Commissioners asked about conditions in the approval, including a requirement to provide affordable workforce housing and provisions to raise funds for future fire and police protection. The plan sets aside a 10-acre parcel for future use, such as for a fire station.
For large developments like Spring Center, the county has "to make sure that they have either planned for service or can provide it,’’ said Ron Pianta, county planning director, "because we certainly don’t want to leave citizens without emergency services.’’
Tuesday’s vote is the last major approval needed, but Don Lacey of Coastal Engineering said the commission also will have a say in agreements related to the school property, water resources and use, and traffic and road development.
Contact Barbara Behrendt at [email protected] or (352) 848-1434.