Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Arc Nature Coast seeks approval of long-range plans for expansion east of Brooksville

A carpenter works on a decorative column for the entrance of the ARC Nature Coast’s Education Center on Mariner Boulevard in Spring Hill.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times (2010)

A carpenter works on a decorative column for the entrance of the ARC Nature Coast’s Education Center on Mariner Boulevard in Spring Hill.

BROOKSVILLE — As officials at the Arc Nature Coast prepare to build their first group home on the east side of the county later this year, they are dreaming big about the future of their 30-acre site.

On Monday, Arc executive director Mark Barry will appear before the Hernando County Planning and Zoning Commission to seek a special exception use permit for the six-bedroom group home and for other longer-term improvements to Arc's property on Neff Lake Road.

The plans include a new training center and additional residential group homes.

Arc serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and operates group homes in Spring Hill. Those are on residential properties and did not require special permits. But the organization's administrative site east of Brooksville is zoned agricultural, requiring the permit.

When the organization first moved to the site nearly 40 years ago, permits were not required, Barry noted.

County planning staffers suggested that Arc's plans be included on the new application so the nonprofit agency does not have to come back for permit modifications as it continues with its expansion plans.

"We always have big dreams,'' Barry said.

Moving forward, funding is an issue. The Arc has funding for the initial group home, but not for the other big-ticket items on the wish list. Capital fundraising would likely be required to accomplish those goals, Barry said.

The plan is to begin construction of the group home later this year, a facility made possible by a $325,000 grant the Arc has received from the state. Ten million dollars was allocated by the Legislature last year in an effort to expand residential capacity across the state.

According to the Arc permit application, the eventual plan is to develop the site as a comprehensive campus with two distinct functions.

The property is naturally divided by a retention pond with a drainage trench. On the north side are the existing structures, including the administrative offices, training facilities, storage, maintenance, an open pole barn and an equestrian barn with a riding ring.

Phase 1 of improvements would be the new group home, which would be on the south side of the drainage trench.

Phase 2, which is anticipated between 2016 and 2018, would include a new 5,000-square-foot training facility on the north side of the trench and closer to the entrance on Neff Lake Road. The old training facility would then be demolished.

Existing offices would also be remodeled.

The long-term plan also calls for additional residential facilities on the south side of the trench, as funding becomes available.

The application notes that the training and office area will keep the access that it currently has to Neff Lake Road, but a new entrance would be built for the group homes.

Of the organization's 75 employees, 24 currently work at the Neff Lake Road site. An additional seven will be added for the new group home.

"These are really just dreams and plans,'' Barry said of the long-term vision. "But we really want to work toward them.''

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at or (352) 848-1434.

Arc Nature Coast seeks approval of long-range plans for expansion east of Brooksville 03/07/14 [Last modified: Friday, March 7, 2014 6:48pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Looking Back: Have you ever heard of Goose Pond?


    I've lived in St. Petersburg most of my life. After a brief spell in North Carolina, my family moved back to St. Petersburg for good in 1978. And in all that time I've never heard the area around Central Plaza referred to as "Goose Pond."

    1952: Factors which made the Central Plaza development logical can be discerned in this photo, by those who know the realty situaiton here. Low grade and a 55-acre school site in storage kept the 90-acre Goose Pond (upper center) almost bare until now. 


  2. Red Cross finds launching pad for Hurricane Irma help at Idlewild Baptist

    Human Interest

    LUTZ — The Rev. Ron Alexander, pastor of Baxterville Baptist Church in Lumberton, Miss., stirred gallons of chili in the mid-afternoon heat on Monday.

    The Rev. Ron Alexander, pastor of Baxterville Baptist Church in Mississippi, stirs a pot of chili. He is part of the Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief team stationed at Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz.
  3. Young girl injured by 105 mph foul at Yankee Stadium renews call for more netting


    NEW YORK — A young girl at Yankee Stadium was injured by a 105 mph foul ball off the bat of Todd Frazier during Wednesday's game against Minnesota, leading some players to call for protective netting to be extended.

    Baseball fans reacts as a young girl is tended to before she is carried out of the seating area after being hit by a line drive in the fifth inning of a baseball game between the New York Yankees and Minnesota Twins, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017, at Yankee Stadium in New York. [Associated Press]
  4. Florida education news: Accountability plan, post-Irma, turnarounds and more


    ACCOUNTABILITY: The Florida Department of Education submits a revised Every Student Succeeds Act plan without the waiver requests it had originally proposed. Experts and advocates …

    High Point Elementary teacher Kristen Bierman works with English language learners on their reading skills. The state wants to test all students in English, saying it's Florida law.