Rezoning sails through for Brooksville project at Lake in the Woods and U.S. 19

BROOKSVILLE — An Atlanta-based company has won County Commission approval to rezone a 72-acre parcel on the southwest corner of Lake in the Woods Drive and U.S. 19 allowing commercial space, offices, a congregate living facility and senior housing.

What made this large project stand out from many others commissioners consider each year is the residents of adjacent communities spoke in favor of, rather than in opposition to, the plan.

So agreeable were the development's representative and citizens who spoke on Tuesday that Commission Chairman Dave Russell even suggested at one point that if there were no opposing residents, why not forgo time at the microphone and let the commissioners go ahead and vote on the issue.

The company's representative has had several meetings with area residents, including those from Lake in the Woods, to talk about issues such as transportation access points, road improvements and an area of multifamily housing.

When that housing component became a sticking point, the developer changed the plans to senior housing to alleviate concerns, developer's representative Don Lacey of Coastal Engineering told commissioners.

Stretching out behind the Walgreens at the corner of U.S. 19 and Lake in the Woods, developer Flag Mets I proposes a variety of commercial and office uses for the parcels closer to U.S. 19, and 225 senior housing units and possibly a congregate care use for the 15 acres of the site furthest from the highway and nearest to existing residential housing.

After hearing from supportive residents and about road improvement concerns in the general area, Lacey had time for his rebuttal but decided not to take much of it.

"I think I know when to step aside and just let the process move forward,'' he said.

Commissioners were unanimous in their support for the rezoning.

In an unrelated matter, the County Commission on Tuesday approved draft documents supporting the Neighborhood Stabilization Program plan for Hernando County.

Following a 15-day public comment period, the commission is expected to approve the plan in a special meeting March 31.

The plan, which is part of the federal Housing and Economic Recovery Act, has two components.

One will bring $4.3 million to acquire and improve foreclosed and abandoned properties, which would then be purchased by people whose income is less than 120 percent of the median for the area.

The second part is making $1.34 million available for the county to provide rental housing in previously foreclosed homes or apartments to people whose income is less than 50 percent of the area mean income.

The program is expected to unfold quickly. Since federal Housing and Urban Development officials have signed off on the state's plan, communities have just 10 months to commit their money to the project.

The program will rely heavily on a consultant the county will hire to oversee it, on private enterprises in Hernando that will be used to complete the home transactions and any repairs needed, and an experienced housing nonprofit agency to oversee the rental properties.

The county will advertise the opportunities available, said Jean Rags, director of health and human services.

For more information, visit www.co.hernando.fl.us/HealthandHumanServices/NSPComments.htm.

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

Rezoning sails through for Brooksville project at Lake in the Woods and U.S. 19 03/11/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 11, 2009 7:29pm]

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