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Hernando County to take second look at plan for scaled-back residential project

BROOKSVILLE — A scaled-back version of a controversial residential development near Bayport will get another look by the county next week.

Plans for 18 single-family homes and townhomes on property that stretches down either side of the access road to Mary's Fish Camp, off Cortez Boulevard, will be reviewed Monday by the Hernando County Planning and Zoning Commission.

A previous proposal by the owner, Curtis Norman and Zeneda Partners Limited Partnership, was reviewed by county planners earlier this year. It generated concern from neighbors because the 37-acre parcel is considered conservation land in the county's long-term land development plan.

Nearby residents worried about harming manatees in the Mud River, impacts on other wildlife and complications of adding more residents to a storm evacuation zone with limited access.

In the earlier plan, the owners sought rezoning that would have allowed one unit per acre on the site, even though only slightly less than 18 of the acres were uplands. That raised concerns. But local development rules state that even if property is considered conservation land, if uplands on the site have direct access to a road network, those lands are considered residential and can be developed.

After the Planning and Zoning Commission ultimately voted to recommend approval of the original plan to the County Commission, new information came to light.

While planners had thought that a portion of the site was in a "velocity zone,'' the zone with the highest risk of damage in a severe storm, it turned out that the entire property was in the zone.

That changes the rules about density, and the project was withdrawn.

Now, the partnership of owners wants to build 10 homes and eight multifamily units on the upland portion of the 37 acres. In addition, there is a plan for a small area where residents would be able to park boats and recreational vehicles.

Individual docks would not be allowed in the proposed community, but one common boat access point on the Mud River is planned.

Additionally, an upland area that juts into the river would be designated as a passive recreation area with a walking trail, a viewing dock and a gazebo.

"As longtime owners of the property, the applicants have a strong interest in protecting the surrounding environmental features, which include the Mud River and coastal wetlands,'' according to the project proposal narrative. "The enclosed conceptual master plan has been designed with that in mind.''

The applicants also note that the adjacent community, Palm Grove Colony, has more than 200 lots and a density of more than three units per acre.

The owners recently conducted a community meeting to discuss the smaller plan. Residents continued to ask questions about utilities, docks, road access and the configuration of buildings on the site.

"We still have issues,'' said Patti Anglin, a resident who has lived near the site for decades.

Anglin said questions include the designation of state-owned submerged lands on the site, the dock and boat ramp on the protected Mud River and the validity of the current survey of the land and its assessment of how much of the property is uplands.

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

Changes in zoning request

Residential development near Bayport for homes and townhomes adjacent to Mary's Fish Camp off Cortez Boulevard.

Original: One unit per acre on the entire 37-acre site.

Current: Ten homes and eight multifamily units on the upland part of the 37 acres. Also, a plan for a small area to be designated on the site to park resident boats and recreational vehicles.

Hernando County to take second look at plan for scaled-back residential project 12/07/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 7, 2011 9:13pm]
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