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Hernando County officials delay Quarry Preserve review at developer's request

BROOKSVILLE — The county's first official review of the massive Quarry Preserve housing and business project has been bumped to November, at the developer's request.

The Planning and Zoning Commission was set to take up the comprehensive plan amendment Monday, but project attorney Jake Varn has pushed for a delay to answer issues raised by county staff.

"We have been working cooperatively with the planning department staff for over two years in order to bring this high-quality, master-planned, sustainable community to Hernando County,'' Varn wrote to the board.

"This project is the first of its kind in Hernando County and represents an opportunity to bring an exciting, productive and sustainable use to an otherwise nonfunctional, mined-out area.''

Quarry Preserve is one of the largest subdivisions proposed for Hernando County.

Developers envision up to 5,800 homes, up to 200 lodging units, up to 850,000 square feet of industrial/office park uses, up to 545,000 square feet of neighborhood and community retail uses with up to 325,000 square feet allocated to highway commercial, up to three golf courses and other school, park, service, institutional, cultural and social facilities.

The project would be on 4,282 acres of mined land owned by Florida Rock Industries in north central Hernando County. The site is north of Lake Lindsey Road, northeast of U.S. 98 and east of County Road 491.

The staff's analysis of the extensive application for the project indicates that planners believe "the applicant has not adequately demonstrated to date that the proposed comprehensive plan amendment … is consistent with a number of essential planning principles.''

The staff notes the application must demonstrate consistency with a number of comprehensive plan principals before it can be forwarded to the Florida Department of Community Affairs. The developer must show:

• that the timing is not premature and will not lead to an unwanted development pattern;

• that the proposed project does not constitute urban sprawl;

• that the need for more residential dwelling units is supported by data and analysis;

• that infrastructure and supporting facilities and services can be planned, funded and provided to support growth.

A number of other issues related to school facilities will need to be worked out in detail, according to a letter from the Hernando County School District's planning and growth management official.

Varn said he received the county staff's report and recommendations last Friday and that the delay in the hearing is necessary so developer Brooksville Quarry, LLC, an arm of Florida Rock, could have "more time to fully review and respond to the issues raised in the staff report.''

In his letter, Varn also spoke of the benefits the project could bring to the county.

"Without the proposed amendment, these lands would otherwise remain in a largely un-reclaimed state at the completion of the limited remaining mining activity currently occurring on the site,'' he noted.

"By developing previously disturbed land, this approach represents a more ecologically viable alternative to development of undisturbed areas,'' he wrote.

Hernando County development services director Ron Pianta said that because the hearing has been advertised, the planning and zoning commission will have to act on the request for a continuance.

It will be up to the commissioners to decide whether to gather public comment Monday.

Behrendt can be reached at behrendt@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1434.

Hernando County officials delay Quarry Preserve review at developer's request 10/08/09 [Last modified: Thursday, October 8, 2009 8:30pm]

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