BROOKSVILLE — Over the protests of upset neighbors, the County Commission this week unanimously approved plans to turn a one-time home for modest trailers into a mecca for upscale RVs.
The 25-acre site on Ancient Trail off of U.S. 41, just north of Brooksville, used to be called Brentwood Lake Camping. In operation since the 1940s, it was a gathering point for longtime seasonal visitors, some of whom kept their travel trailers on site for months at a time.
Under its new owner and new name, it is now known as Belle Parc, envisioned as a resort for owners of luxury recreational vehicles. The target audience, said owner and developer Jim Trefz, are vacationers with newer recreational vehicles and guests with discretionary income.
Just over a year ago, Trefz bought the park from Laine and Elaine Brayko, whose family had run Brentwood since it opened in the 1960s. While he said then it was not his intention to drive away longtime residents, he said improvements had to be made to make the investment financially viable.
"As nice a location as it is, there is a trailer park feel to it," Trefz told the Times after the sale. "People with nice RVs would come through and see all the shabby RVs laying around and turn right around and leave. We felt we had to make some changes."
The resort is focused on being a vacation destination and guests will not be allowed to stay longer than six months. Also, vehicles older than 10 years will not be allowed to stay at the site. Trefz said that it would keep the park from becoming a trailer park.
Plans call for a maximum of 197 individual vehicle spaces, although as many as 54 of those may be used for park models. Amenities and services that may be included for guests could include golf cart rentals, set up and breakdown services, a clubhouse, a swimming pool, shuffleboard and a dog park.
Gone, however, will be the neighborly events such as potluck dinners and the early morning gatherings under an old oak tree at the "Liar's Corner," where people would share coffee and conversation.
A number of nearby residents opposed to the changes presented signed petitions to county officials on Wednesday. They argued that the proposed rezoning and other changes requested by the resort owner would impact the wildlife that wanders the woods and cost them the peace and quiet of their neighborhood.
Tom Dimmer, one of the residents of Da-Mac Estates, said his opposition was simple. "It's in my backyard,'' he said.
He also argued that Trefz had promised residents a fence separating their homes from the park when the project appeared before the Planning and Zoning Commission, then changed what he offered afterward.
But Trefz said he never promised a fence 100 feet inside his own property line. That would have given residents of the adjacent neighborhood 100 feet of his property, he said.
He also wasn't willing to donate the land to the neighborhood because he said that would not be fair to him.
Trefz did agree not to place any recreational vehicle spaces within the 100-foot buffer between the homes and the resort.
Other area residents and construction workers spoke in favor of the resort, saying they supported the improved park and appreciated the need to bring people into the area who had disposable income to spend locally.
Information from Times files was used in this report. Barbara Behrendt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1434.