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Plans scrapped for medical offices at Spring Hill's wooded entrance

Plans had called for a medical office building with a coffee shop and spa on the property at U.S. 19 and Spring Hill Drive. Residents worried that the landscaped buffer would be lost.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times files

Plans had called for a medical office building with a coffee shop and spa on the property at U.S. 19 and Spring Hill Drive. Residents worried that the landscaped buffer would be lost.

SPRING HILL — Neighbors worried that a proposed office complex will rise on the wooded entrance to Spring Hill on U.S. 19 can breathe easier.

Dr. Pariksith Singh, who had intended to build a medical mall on the site, announced Wednesday that he is abandoning those plans in the face of criticism from local residents.

"Dr. Singh and Access Health Care are committed to this community and to the residents of this community,'' said Todd Pressmen on Singh's behalf. "It became apparent that it was not something that the community was embracing.''

Singh's Access Health Care was planning a medical office building with a coffee shop and spa on the parcel at the northeast corner of U.S. 19 and Spring Hill Drive. While his representatives promised extra landscaping and buffering, residents of the area protested vehemently.

The decision to pull the application came just two days after the Hernando County Planning and Zoning Commission voted 4 to 0 to recommend that the County Commission deny the rezoning.

Planning commissioners were especially concerned that the complex would cause even more traffic issues at an intersection that already has traffic congestion.

Residents protested that the development would take from them a natural buffer promised as part of the original plan for Spring Hill. Both sides of the main entrance have stands of trees and residents argued that part of the community's character was built from that signature appearance.

With the trees gone and a medical complex there, they told planning commissioners, noise and odors would follow and they would lose a sense of community. Neighbors gathered 330 signatures on a petition opposing the project.

The residents argued that it was clear that original Spring Hill developer Deltona never intended for the land to be developed when the firm sold to the current owners, members of the Haber family, the 11 acres with frontage on U.S. 19 for just $5,800 in 1995.

The doctor wants to move in a more positive direction and plans to expand instead on property that he already owns in the area, Pressman said.

He noted that Singh had invested considerable time and money into plans for the site and they had worked hard to satisfy the residents' concerns but they understood in this case the concerns remained.

"I'm incredibly happy,'' said nearby resident Carol McCarten, who fought this development attempt and another by a dentist 22 years ago. "It's going to save us a lot of pounding of the pavement and that's what we were about to do.''

McCarten congratulated Singh for recognizing that the community was not supportive and for pulling his application. "That makes him a fine man,'' she said.

"It's clear that Dr. Singh is committed to his mission to make health care available across the county while continuing to be a good steward of the community,'' said Collins Conner, another nearby resident and a former reporter for the St. Petersburg Times. "The community is very grateful to him.''

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

Plans scrapped for medical offices at Spring Hill's wooded entrance 06/16/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, June 16, 2010 7:52pm]
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