Protection for Hernando's springs moves forward

BROOKSVILLE — New protections for Hernando County's fragile freshwater springs got a push forward Monday when planners backed an ordinance banning certain land uses that could contaminate the underground water.

In a unanimous vote, the Planning and Zoning Commission recommended ordinance changes to keep certain uses from within 500 feet of a spring. That would include auto-related businesses such as maintenance shops and carwashes, new underground storage tanks, marine paint or repair shops, dry cleaners, electroplating operations, and laundromats not connected to sewer lines.

The added rules, which were encouraged by residents of the Holiday Springs RV Resort in Spring Hill, go to the County Commission later this summer for approval.

Residents of Holiday Springs were concerned about an auto-related business considering a site near their community and the potential impact on the spring that is part of the resort. Holiday Springs is west of U.S. 19, close to the Pasco-Hernando county line.

They requested the changes in the county's rules to be sure their spring, and springs like it that dot the county, are not fouled by chemicals, fuel or other substances.

For months, they have been working with county planning staffers to craft language that addressed everyone's concerns.

"The spring is what drew us to the park. We love it,'' five-year resident Robert Earl told planning commissioners. "It's a very, very important area to us.''

The rules were drawn to be limited to uses that "can be very damaging,'' said Todd Pressman, who was representing resort residents. "The distances we're prescribing should have very limited effect on business and commercial activity.''

Existing businesses near springs that want to expand would have to go through the appeals process before the County Commission that the proposed ordinance change would also include, said Ron Pianta, planning director.

The tenacity of the residents pushing for the new rules earned the praise of planning commission member Robert Widmar. He noted that most people who protest a development never return to the commission chambers, but the Holiday Springs residents stayed engaged and helped to change the process.

"It makes our job easier'' to have such rules in place, he said.

In other business, planning commissioners voted unanimously to recommend approval of a rezoning plan for a residential development previously approved for the northwest corner of Cobb Road and Fort Dade Avenue.

The original plan was to build multifamily workforce housing on the 40-acre site, but now the developer wanted to be able to offer two products on the site, multifamily and single-family homes on small lots, said Don Lacey, representing 34601 Realty Partners LLC.

The proposal would include 58 homes on half the site and up to 240 multifamily units in buildings three stories or less on the other half. One access boulevard would connect to Cobb Road so that the tree canopy of Fort Dade would not be affected, Lacey explained.

Planning commissioners asked several questions about the single access point and the two cul-de-sacs in the area with the single-family homes. Lacey explained that the single entrance was acceptable to the planning staff, and the cul-de-sacs prevented the need to build a bridge over a creek running through the property.

The County Commission will have final approval.

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

Protection for Hernando's springs moves forward 08/09/10 [Last modified: Monday, August 9, 2010 2:56pm]

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