Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Lake Jovita neighbors, Saint Leo University strike deal on expansion

ST. LEO — Town Hall had never been so packed. People crammed into every space. Some sat cross-legged on the floor Monday night and for hours watched lawyers and land use experts make their cases.

Saint Leo University wants to expand its campus, which sits next to Lake Jovita, a 1,000-acre subdivision that boasts championship golf courses and some of Pasco County's most expensive homes.

The university has since April sought approval from the St. Leo town commissioners to build a soccer field and a parking garage. It hopes to break ground in November. Neighbors at Lake Jovita have delayed approval with concerns about destruction of woods and wetlands and maintaining residents' privacy.

Lake Jovita resident Dennis Huffman referred to broken promises during construction of the softball field in 2005.

"It was, 'we'll do this and we'll do that,' before Sherman marched through Georgia," Huffman said. "We need to hold their feet to the fire to do what they say."

Others also got their chance to vent: Ray Davis protested a proposed jogging path that would cross his back yard, local attorney Charlie Waller challenged "the lights and the noise" and Eric Parrish complained about a history of "don't worry be happy" negotiations.

Frank Mezanini, the university's vice president of business affairs, brought Orlando attorney Thomas Gould, Lakeland architect Dan Fowler and a horticulturalist.

The Lake Jovita Homeowners Association was represented by land use attorney Barbara Wilhite and Cliff Manuel, president of Coastal Engineering Associates Inc.

Gould told the commission that the university has "gone above and beyond to accommodate a barrage of demands."

Manuel called for specific language concerning protection of woods and hillsides. He insisted upon a 145-foot buffer zone along with replacement of 238 large trees.

The commission said approval will be contingent on the following:

• The university agrees to guarantee a 145-foot buffer zone and to replace trees destroyed during the project. In addition, it must create two parallel columns of native foliage.

• Before any construction can begin in November, a buffer must be staked out, provisions for erosion control must be met, and no lighting can be installed without future approval.

• A slope of no less than 65 feet is to be built and the 220-foot northern boundary must remain as woods.

The next step is up to landscape architects representing each party. They will tweak the site plan before submitting it to town planner John Norsoph. The final site plan and construction approvals could come as early as September.

On Tuesday, Ronnie Deese, president of the homeowners association, expressed satisfaction over the meeting. "They've always been good neighbors,'' he said.

Lake Jovita neighbors, Saint Leo University strike deal on expansion 07/12/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 12, 2011 9:00pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Actor John Heard dies at age 72

    Blogs

    John Heard, who played so many roles in the '80s but was probably best known as the dad in the Home Alone movies, has died, according to media reports. He was 72.

  2. Linkin Park cancel tour, including Tampa concert, after death of singer Chester Bennington

    Blogs

    This news is not a surprise, but it is now official: Linkin Park has canceled their upcoming North American tour following this week's death of singer Chester Bennington.

    Linkin Park's Chester Bennington
  3. Nurse backs Kriseman in St. Pete mayor's race

    Blogs

    Council member Karl Nurse has endorsed Mayor Rick Kriseman.

    St. Petersburg mayor Rick Kriseman, left, is seen with Karl Nurse in the combination of two images.
  4. Spring Hill woman, 24, dies when car hits tree in Pasco County

    Accidents

    LAND O' LAKES — A 24-year-old woman died early Saturday morning after her Hyundai Elantra hit a tree, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

  5. Florida Insiders: We'll find out soon whether Adam Putnam has a glass jaw

    Blogs

    This month's Florida Insider Poll questions: Who would be the strongest Democratic/Republican nominee for governor? Whom do you expect will win the Democratic/Republican gubernatorial nomination? Which party …

    Florida Insider polls are unscientific surveys of Florida political operatives, money-raisers, lobbyists, political scientists, recovering journalists, activists, and the like