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Developer T. Rowe Price avoids clash over Pasco project

LAND O'LAKES — An environmental group's most recent challenge to the proposed T. Rowe Price project is dead after a countermove this week by the developer.

Citizens for Sanity had challenged the formal wetlands delineation — which maps out the size and location of wetlands — of the Long Lake Ranch property on State Road 54. Investment firm T. Rowe Price is considering building an office complex on the western end of the property.

This week, the developer on the eastern, commercial end, Amprop, withdrew the wetlands delineation.

The upshot? There is nothing for Citizens to challenge, said Robyn Felix, spokeswoman for Southwest Florida Water Management District.

"The second challenge is basically dead," she said.

Citizens has also challenged the decision by the district, known as Swiftmud, to grant the T. Rowe Price project an environmental resource permit. That challenge is pending, said Felix.

How exactly the withdrawal of the wetlands delineation affects T. Rowe's environmental resource permit was unclear Friday.

Citizens had found an opening to challenge the 3-year-old wetlands delineation on Long Lake Ranch, which had already been certified by Swiftmud as the official survey. Earlier this year, Citizens for Sanity member Dan Rametta discovered that the delineation underestimated the size of wetlands on the eastern end by more than 6 acres.

Swiftmud agreed and corrected the mistakes. Citizens member Clay Colson had said that by modifying the survey, the district opened itself up to additional challenges.

County and state officials are offering more than $30 million in incentives to try to lure T. Rowe Price to Pasco from its Tampa offices. The firm would move 435 jobs and add another 1,200 positions over a decade.

The Baltimore-based investment firm has not said it is committed to Pasco but is lining up its permits for the project.

A T. Rowe spokesman said this week that the uncertain economy, which has forced company-wide layoffs of 288, means the firm can't commit yet to a timetable for its expansion plans.

Jodie Tillman can be reached at jtillman@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6247.

Developer T. Rowe Price avoids clash over Pasco project 04/24/09 [Last modified: Friday, April 24, 2009 8:44pm]
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