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Plans for Hernando County development Quarry Preserve are back on track

BROOKSVILLE — Plans for the massive Quarry Preserve project are back on track, with all of the concerns voiced several months ago by state growth management experts answered, according to the developer's representative, Jake Varn.

The County Commission is set to consider a comprehensive plan amendment for the 5,800-unit development at its Feb. 8 meeting.

Ever since the Florida Department of Community Affairs determined in October that the project, as previously presented, was not in compliance with the county's comprehensive plan, officials from developer Brooksville Quarry LLC, county representatives and DCA officials have been working through the concerns, Varn said Thursday.

There are no substantial changes in the plan for the 4,282-acre development, which is proposed for an exhausted rock mine along Ponce de Leon Boulevard north of Brooksville. The plan includes a town center concept, mixed-use residential units, 200 lodging units, an 850,000-square-foot business park, office space and public use areas.

The only change to that mix is that the state asked the developer to drop the number of age-restricted units for 55-and-older residents from the proposed 1,300 to 650. Additional multifamily units were added to keep the overall number of residential units at 5,800, Varn said.

Planners with the DCA had told the developer that they didn't think the project would be a so-called "new town" with so many older people, Varn said.

The concern about the previous plan was that the developer hadn't met the criteria for a new town, and the DCA wanted much more detail about how Quarry Preserve would meet that definition. Varn said satisfying the agency required adding specifics about all aspects of the development.

Another major issue for the DCA was a question about whether Hernando County needed 5,800 more residential units. Varn said the question about that need "disappeared'' after the developer explained that it made more sense for future residents to settle into a well-planned community than it did for them to fill in available residential properties in unplanned communities that haven't seen new construction for years.

County land services director Ron Pianta said the state made two significant decisions in discussing the project with the developer. One concerned the "new town" definition because unless the developer proved that the plan created a new town, the project would be considered urban sprawl, which the DCA opposes. The second decision was on the need issue.

The state agreed that a community that was well-planned and had an appropriate mix of land uses would meet the criteria, Pianta said.

"You'd have to see all the things you see in a town,'' he said.

Other issues worked out included providing more details on where residential gates would be in the master plan, more details on multi-modal walking and biking trails and encouragement of even more nonresidential uses in the project.

Varn said he is confident that all of the questions have been answered and that the project will soon get its final approvals from the county and the state.

"It's just well designed,'' he said. "It's a total community, something that people haven't seen before.''

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at behrendt@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1434.

Plans for Hernando County development Quarry Preserve are back on track 01/27/11 [Last modified: Thursday, January 27, 2011 8:11pm]
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