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Planners recommend approval of Hernando Beach subdivision

BROOKSVILLE — Luxury waterfront homes with a direct view of the Gulf of Mexico got a thumbs up from county planning officials on Monday.

A country store-gas station in the same Hernando Beach community didn't fare so well.

Eagle Point, controversial for its part in the delayed dredging of the Hernando Beach Channel, won the unanimous blessings of the Hernando County Planning and Zoning Commission.

It was actually a scaled-down version of the development, first approved in 2005 with 11 lots on 3 acres. The property is owned by the prominent Manuel family of Brooksville.

On Monday, Cliff Manuel, speaking for Manuel LLC, said the plan had been reworked and now needed an amendment to build on just seven lots.

The plan was altered to reduce the impact on the sensitive site and to better make use of what he called the "unique environmental features" of the property. Smaller building footprints, a passive recreation area with access to the water and a shell or rock road were included in those changes.

The Eagle Point property was the county's preferred site to dump the spoils from the Hernando Beach Channel dredging project, but that plan was mired for several years in environmental and legal problems.

In April, the county decided on another site to pipe the spoils but agreed to give at least 40,000 cubic yards of that dredged material as a part of the settlement with Manuel LLC.

Manuel's new plan will fill some wetlands for a road and a berm.

Neighbors, worried about their lots flooding, have long fought the project and continued to object even to the scaled-down version.

Adjacent property owner Richard Doyle showed pictures of the project site when high tides or windy conditions covered the parcel with water.

Manuel assured commissioners that their approval was just the first step. His subdivision still faces reviews under state and federal rules that will not allow him to discharge water on adjacent properties.

Planning commission members were not so positive about the convenience store and gas station proposed by Dial One L.C. for the northeast corner of Shoal Line and Osowaw boulevards.

The planning staff determined that the proposed project was not compatible with the county's growth blueprint and rules about developing in the coastal area and the rural nature of the area.

Buddy Selph, representing the applicant, pitched the need for the country-store-style convenience store and gas station, showing that other such businesses in Hernando Beach and Aripeka were inadequate to handle the needs of the residents.

But Hernando Beach resident Elizabeth Bodine called the idea overkill and said there was plenty of shopping and gas nearby.

In a split vote, the planning commission voted to recommend the County Commission deny the zoning.

Applicant Gary Grubbs, a longtime area resident, developer and former road builder, was unsuccessful last year pitching a recreational vehicle park and similar general store on the other side of Shoal Line Boulevard.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at behrendt@sptimes.com.

Planners recommend approval of Hernando Beach subdivision 11/09/09 [Last modified: Monday, November 9, 2009 9:00pm]
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