Thursday, April 19, 2018
News Roundup

Hernando planners say church, site near airport not a good fit

BROOKSVILLE — When it comes to incompatible land uses, plans for mines, landfills, motocross tracks and gun ranges almost always will draw opposition.

Churches are usually a different case.

But on Wednesday, Hernando County's planning staff will recommend that the Planning and Zoning Commission reject a special exception use permit for a place of worship for the growing Spring Hill-based Crosspoint Church.

Church leaders want to purchase a nearly 16-acre parcel at the corner of Anderson Snow Road and Corporate Boulevard and build a church for their 1,000 regular members. They say they might later include a school, a day care center and other programs.

County planners say the church would be incompatible with the neighbors, inconsistent with the county's comprehensive plan and would be harmful to future economic development opportunities in Hernando.

That's because the parcel is zoned industrial and is adjacent to Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport.

In the church's application for the permit, Crosspoint Pastor Paul Castelli makes a plea for approval.

"I know that industrial acreage is important to our county's economic plans, but so is spiritual development and ministry to our Hernando County families," he wrote.

Formed seven years ago with just a dozen members, Crosspoint now conducts services at Challenger K-8 School of Science and Mathematics in Spring Hill.

"We feel it is vital to our future to be able to purchase land and build a church campus so we can effectively continue our mission," Castelli wrote.

The plan is to build a 50,000-square-foot church with a 1,600-seat sanctuary.

In its review of the proposal, the county's Office of Business Development notes that one of the key factors in attracting industry to the area is "available land/facilities and workforce. Without those, companies will eliminate communities from their selection process."

Utilizing industrial areas for other uses "may have a negative downstream effect, hindering growth as well as the ability to recruit future industry," the staff report states.

The airport director stated that the public assembly use "would be inconsistent with the current and future business plans for the airport, technology center and surrounding properties. Such a change may affect the airport's ability for growth of aviation and industrial use as planned.''

Planners go on to say that land such as this parcel in the Airport Planned Development District is intended to "maximize the use of the Hernando County airport and surrounding lands for aviation, aviation-related activities, industrial uses and other land uses compatible with the airport."

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