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Hernando County leaders clear way for two major projects

BROOKSVILLE — Two large business projects touched by controversy prevailed Tuesday in separate actions by the Hernando County Commission.

Commissioners voted unanimously to approve a court settlement that will allow Wal-Mart to build its fourth supercenter in Hernando County, on a site on County Line Road.

The board also paved the way for developers tied to a company with financial woes to build a 3.2-million square-foot warehouse/industrial space on 147 acres near Interstate 75 and State Road 50 in east Hernando County.

Approval of Wal-Mart's plan to build the supercenter on a 32 acres on the northeast corner of the Suncoast Parkway and County Line Road brought to an end an 18-month legal battle with the retail giant over the county's denial to build on its original site.

In May 2007, residents of Silverthorn, Pristine Place, The Oaks and Sterling Hill successfully lobbied the commission to kill plans to build a 24-hour, 184,954-square-foot Wal-Mart on Barclay Road and Spring Hill Drive. They complained that it would bring congestion to the densely populated area.

Wal-Mart quickly took legal action, saying planning and zoning commissioners had recommended approval of that store. The company later sought relief through mediation.

Shortly after the commission killed the Barclay Road site, the prospect of a store on County Line Road was revealed in a St. Petersburg Times story July 2007.

In the other big issue before the board on Tuesday, commissioners grilled a representative of the developers of the proposed industrial park One Hernando Center. Its parent company, DBSI Inc. of Boise, Idaho, one of the nation's largest real estate investment companies, filed for protection from its creditors under Chapter 11 bankruptcy statutes.

With about $1.5-million worth of road improvements needed for the development, Commissioner David Russell said he wanted to make certain "the public is not out anything" if the project failed to get off the ground.

Project attorney Donna Feldman assured commissioners that DBSI's woes had nothing to do with the company wanting to build the complex.

"It's a wholly separate entity," she said, adding developers of One Hernando Center had the capital to meet all performance requirements.

County Business Development Director Mike McHugh said that the complex is expected to attract distribution companies and manufacturers, creating hundreds of jobs in an area where the 7.4 percent unemployment rate in May was one of the worst in Florida.

"It's win-win for us," McHugh said.

According to the county's agreement, the company must obtain building permits or begin substantial construction of road improvements by Dec. 31, 2010, or the contract is void.

Logan Neill can be reached at lneill@sptimes.com or 848-1435.

Hernando County leaders clear way for two major projects 11/18/08 [Last modified: Thursday, November 20, 2008 8:11pm]

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