BROOKSVILLE — Planners on Monday rejected a proposed medical office project at Spring Hill Drive and U.S. 19, saying it would dump even more traffic onto the congested intersection.
The applicants — Kenneth, Martha, Gary and Evelyn Haber — sought a rezoning from the Hernando County Planning and Zoning Commission to allow Access Health Care to build on an 11-acre parcel of woods just north of the historic entrance to the Spring Hill subdivision.
The development, to be done by Dr. Pariksith Singh, would cost between $6.5 million and $7 million, bring in hundreds of thousands in fees to the county, create 40-50 high-tech jobs and generate an estimated $81,000 in property taxes, said Todd Pressman, who represented the Habers.
Residents, however, argued that the land was designated as "landscape" by Spring Hill's original developer Deltona Corp. The green space was part of the marketing that set the community apart, residents said.
They brought 330 signatures on a petition to turn the project down.
Richard Matassa told the planning board that a similar plan for an office on the site was denied in 1988. "This was intended to be an open, natural space," he said.
Carol McCarten, a Spring Hill resident since 1974, said the woods on either side of the entrance were supposed to remain undeveloped. "We were assured they would remain as a pristine buffer," she said.
"The Habers will make a ton of money, and Spring Hill is going to lose its distinction because promises made for the community have not been kept," said resident Collins Conner, formerly a reporter for the St. Petersburg Times. "Keep the promise," she said.
Planning commissioners were concerned that the plan did not include a frontage road to ease traffic, but their staff and Pressman said they determined a frontage road would not work.
Instead, the plan would be to access the property off U.S. 19 at the north end of the site and connect that entrance to the eventual completion of a frontage road partially built along 19 north of the site. County planning director Ron Pianta pointed out that, if approved, the plan would still have to go through additional levels of traffic study and review.
"There has to be a creative solution" to the traffic concerns, said commission member Ron Caldi.
Commission member Thomas Deutschle was concerned about drivers traveling south on U.S. 19 making U-turns at the busy intersection to get into the office complex.
"I do have concerns about the traffic," added planning commission Chairwoman Lisa Hammond. "I can't get comfortable with it."
The commission voted 4-0 to recommend to the County Commission denial of the rezoning. The County Commission makes the final decision.
Barbara Behrendt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (352) 848-1434.