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Hernando County zoning change would allow 3,700 housing units in Lake Hideaway

BROOKSVILLE — Developers envision a massive planned community connected by a trail system and served by adjacent offices and commercial centers. It would feature a range of housing types, with as many as 3,700 single-family and multifamily units.

On Monday, the Hernando County Planning and Zoning Commission will consider whether to recommend approval of the zoning change and master plan needed to proceed with the 885-acre Lake Hideaway project in the northwest part of the county.

Nearly two years ago, the County Commission approved the project as a development of regional impact. It would be one of the largest developments to be approved in Hernando in recent years.

The zoning change — from agricultural, highway commercial and planned development project/single family to a combined planned development project — and master plan are the next steps in the approval process for the Lake Hideaway, which would be bound by U.S. 19 on the west, Hexam Road on the north, Star Road on the south and Weeping Willow Street on the east.

Developer Tommy Bronson proposes a mixture of up to 2,400 single-family units, including traditional home sites, townhomes and duplexes, plus up to 1,300 multifamily units.

A 30-acre school site is included in the northeastern portion of the development. And the development would be just south of where the school district is completing a new high school and has plans to build a K-8 school.

According to projections by the school district, the Lake Hideaway project could generate an additional 446 elementary school students, 257 middle school students and 327 high school students.

In a letter to the county's Planning Department, Amber Wheeler, the school district's planning and growth manager, recommends that the developer meet with the school district to discuss mitigation of that impact.

Adjacent to the school site, the project envisions a 20-acre community park. Additional land would be set aside for public facilities and a multiuse trail network throughout the development that would connect with Hexam Road, Weeping Willow Street and U.S. 19.

Also planned are 50,000 square feet of neighborhood commercial retail space and 150,000 square feet of office and professional space.

The preliminary environmental assessment on the site found two threatened species: gopher tortoises and Sherman's fox squirrels. According to the application, the developer will follow through with mitigation already outlined in the development order for those animals; it has agreed to notify state wildlife officials and follow their protocol if nesting colonies of wading birds or sandhill cranes are found on the site.

The application also notes that the developer has agreed to:

• Donate $129,000 to Hernando County Fire Rescue for fire protection equipment or facilities for the area around the property.

• Mitigate potential hurricane impacts by constructing a suitable hurricane shelter on site or contributing $82,200 to the county's public shelter fund.

• Donate $100 per residence — a total of $370,000 — to the county for creation or promotion of affordable housing in the county.

County planning staffers recommend that the planning commission recommend approval of the zoning change and master plan, with several conditions. If approved, the plan would then go to the County Commission.

The Planning and Zoning Commission meeting begins at 9 a.m. Monday.

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

Hernando County zoning change would allow 3,700 housing units in Lake Hideaway 01/09/10 [Last modified: Saturday, January 9, 2010 12:08pm]

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