BROOKSVILLE — Owners who buy townhouses near the Withlacoochee State Trail could have the option of renting to vacationers.
The Hernando Planning and Zoning Commission approved the zoning change Monday after Brooksville developer Joe Selway said the ability to lease seasonally would better suit those who might purchase in the development. The change must still be approved by the County Commission.
Plans call for 241 two- and three-story homes to be built on a 25-acre parcel east of Interstate 75 and north of State Road 50, near a popular trailhead. Originally approved by the county last April, the units are expected to sell for as little as $150,000.
"We've found a lot of our customers still want to be snowbirds (because of the economy)," Selway said. "For example, there are a couple of firemen from the Midwest who can't afford not to lease."
Not all potential owners have indicated that they want to rent, he said. Selway added that such short-term leases are a much-needed option in the county, especially for larger families when hotels fill up.
Last year, the townhouse proposal created controversy among nearby residents and those opposed to development near the trail. The Withlacoochee trail has long been a regional hub for hikers, runners and cyclists.
In a county that touts ecotourism, some said the trail won't be as attractive when the townhomes are built. Selway's tract of land is considered a bridge between commercial property owned by a restaurant company to the south and the single-family houses in Sherman Hills to the north.
On Monday, planning commissioners also approved a separate request by Selway to move ahead with plans to build a gated recreational vehicle community. The 162 homes would be built with bays large enough to accommodate RVs.
"It's basically a house with a very large carport," Selway explained.
Homes will be constructed on a 50-acre tract off McKethan Road, south of SR 50. Commissioners approved the plan with two access points on McKethan Road and an emergency outlet on Westlake Boulevard.
Unlike traditional RV resorts, the development is expected to serve as a temporary home base where RV drivers won't hook up and continue running their vehicles. When traveling, owners will most likely rent to other RVers.
Commissioner Bob DeWitt said that such a community would be great for those who come through the county in large mobile units.
"I think this is something we need in this county," DeWitt said.
The plan now goes to the County Commission for consideration.
Chandra Broadwater can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or (352) 848-1432.