DADE CITY — After an emotional four-hour debate over a developer's rights and the rural character of east Pasco, the County Commission voted 4-0 to approve the controversial Citrus Ridge subdivision west of Dade City on Tuesday night.
Commissioners scaled back the proposal from 358 homes to 302, and required the developer to put up $764,000 to help improve the intersection of St. Joe Road and 21st Street, among other conditions. Commissioner Ted Schrader abstained from the vote because his brother was on the board of URADCO, which owns the property.
"This is probably not what you folks want on either side," said Commissioner Ann Hildebrand, who moved to approve the development with the list of conditions, including a requirement for a secondary access road that is acceptable to the county.
Clearwater-based Bayshore-Broadway Developers originally proposed 450 homes on the 112-acre tract off St. Joe Road, which is owned by URADCO, the development arm of the Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative. Top county administrators knocked that down to 358.
Last month, planning commissioners unanimously recommended denial of the project amid complaints that it would be incompatible in an area earmarked for transition from urban to rural. County staff recommended approval with conditions.
The subdivision has been a hot topic since it was first proposed three years ago.
Joel Tew, attorney for the developers, said that his clients could already build 330 homes under current zoning rules, but wanted the higher density as part of a master planned community. He said the higher number would give the county "total control" over the design.
If his clients were to build the 330 homes, he said, it would result in cookie cutter homes rather than "garages in the rear and cute little front porches."
"We're not going to have an attractive community," he said.
About 100 neighbors, wearing their signature red shirts to signify their opposition, turned out Tuesday to make an impression.
"I'm a fourth generation Floridian, and a good citizen isn't someone who comes into our back yard and tries to overpower us," said Noah Kaaa, who lives in another area that successfully fought the proposed Berry Hill neighborhood this year.
Opponents showed a PowerPoint presentation that illustrated their concerns about traffic and congestion.
Dade City officials, who turned down the project themselves when developers initially floated the idea of building inside the city limits through annexation, reiterated their opposition Tuesday night.