Monday, January 22, 2018
News Roundup

Hernando planning board recommends that homes be similar

BROOKSVILLE — Reviving the "similarity ordinance" ignited a spirited debate by the Hernando County Planning and Zoning Commission members on Monday.

Those in favor said setting architectural standards in residential zoning districts is a way to upgrade neighborhoods that aren't deed restricted and thus protect home owners' property values.

Those opposed saw the rules as forcing excessive regulations on future home owners.

Planning commissioners voted 3-2 to recommend approval to the County Commission, which will hold two public hearings on the ordinance before the end of July.

The ordinance would include specifications for houses' foundations and outer coverings and set architectural standards intended to prevent homes from looking like simple boxes. An attached garage would be required in certain zoning categories.

The original ordinance in 2000 was spurred by a neighborhood upheaval when a modular home was built in Royal Highlands. Modular homes are treated like a site-built homes under building codes. In 2010, the County Commission repealed the ordinance at the request of a citizens committee.

The new ordinance was drawn up after residents complained about a new modular home in Royal Highlands that looks like a mobile home.

On Tuesday, Lynn Gruber-White, president of the Ridge Manor Property Owners Association, urged planning commissioners to recommend the ordinance.

"We have property owners who bought and built because their investment was going to be protected,'' she said.

But planning commission Chairman Ron Caldi said it wasn't government's job to protect people's investments.

"I don't like this at all, period,'' he said. "It restricts me as a home owner or a potential home owner. ... I view this as an overreach.''

Planning commission member Pamela Vergara called the ordinance "overbroad'' and said it would impose a burden on future home owners.

But planning commission member Robert Widmar said protecting residents' investments struck a chord with him.

"The changes are improvements,'' he said. "We need to keep upgrading.''

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