BROOKSVILLE — At the height of the real estate boom last decade, Hernando County planners were slammed with a series of proposals for major developments along the Interstate 75/State Road 50 corridor that would create housing for thousands of new residents.
But the recession that followed stalled the development crush.
Now, even as the state is widening the interstate and rebuilding the interchange with SR 50, representatives of one of the developments has come forward, expressing hope to start building next year and have housing ready to occupy by 2019.
The Hernando County Planning and Zoning Commission this week voted unanimously to recommend that the County Commission approve a master plan change that would alter the original plan for homes and town homes at Trilby Crossing to just homes. The plan, by applicant Charles E. Garris TTEE, would include 430 single-family homes in three phases on 101 acres between Lockhart Road and Interstate 75, where Old Trilby Road intersects Lockhart.
Don Lacey, on behalf of Coastal Engineering Associates, represented the applicant before the Planning and Zoning Commission. He explained that during the boom, about a half-dozen developers had plans in that area and all became part of a larger planned development district. At that time, the thought had been that the massive Hickory Hill project, slated for 1,750 homes farther to the south, would be responsible for paying for major infrastructure in the area, including improvements to Lockhart Road.
"Hickory Hill is still a ranch,’’ Lacey said.
The original developer is no longer involved, and development is not currently planned. And, because Hickory Hill was proposed as a high-end subdivision, "there is a very, very limited chance (of development), certainly nothing over the next several years,’’ Lacey said.
So one goal for the developer of Trilby Crossing is to talk to the county about the infrastructure issues.
One of the requirements county planners have placed in their recommendations for the project is that, once the development reaches its 201st residential structure, if improvements haven’t been made to Lockhart Road and it is failing, the county will stop issuing permits for the project.
County planning director Ron Pianta said that number was set by the county engineer during the original planning process for the project, and Pianta said he wasn’t comfortable changing it. He said it was clear there would need to be some improvements, but since other developments in the area haven’t yet begun to build, there was room for discussion about what would be required.
Planning commissioners had several questions.
Commission member John Scharch was concerned that as various projects come online, there will be a need for east/west roads to handle increasing traffic. He also voiced concern that the property is just south of a site used for major dog shows. Scharch said he just wanted to make sure incoming residents would know there would be events, noise and lights during events there.
Lacey pointed out that the planning staff had already put in a requirement for notice to future homeowners.
Planning commission member Thomas Comunale voiced concern about small lots planned for the subdivision, which could mean less green space, more parking problems, more drainage issues and more traffic.
Lacey said smaller lots are popular today.
"People want smaller homes, less yard to take care of,’’ he said.
Pianta said that having developments in a planned development district was like creating a kind of a city clustered around needed infrastructure. Smaller lot sizes could allow for more common open space in a development, he said. He also noted that markets change over time, and what was a good fit in 2006 might not work today.
Scharch said he was pleased to see a developer ready to start building in the area.
"I’m glad to see things are starting to pop a bit in the county,’’ he said.
Contact Barbara Behrendt at [email protected] or (352) 848-1434.