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Zoning commission endorses four-story assisted living facility

BROOKSVILLE — Dan Miller said he's lived on Grove Road, near Cortez Boulevard and the Suncoast Parkway, for about 10 years.

Since then, businesses near his house have sprouted, turning what was a quaint rural area into a growing center of commerce.

The latest plan for the area, however, causes him concern.

Miller was one of three residents Monday who protested a plan to build a four-story, 275-unit assisted living facility south of Cortez Boulevard, between Grove Road and Lucky Lane.

"I don't really want to walk out my back door and see a four-story building," Miller told the Hernando Planning and Zoning Commission.

Despite the pleas from residents in attendance and three letters in opposition to the plan, the commission voted 4-1 to recommend approval of the building. The County Commission will review the proposed center.

The county Planning Department, which makes suggestions to the Planning and Zoning Commission, recommended denial of the application.

Developers are seeking a special-use permit because the 19.3-acre site is designated rural, not commercial.

Developers argued that the land, though classified rural, is not fit for rural or agricultural use because it is bordered by commercial, office or multifamily properties to the north, east and west.

"This is not going to be a watermelon field," real estate broker Gary Schraut said.

Don Lacey of Coastal Engineering Associates said the new building would be a good fit with its commercial neighbors.

"A four-story building is significantly different than the one-story buildings that are already there," Miller said.

Many on the commission sided with Miller, initially.

Though she agreed the assisted living facility would be a good fit with the area, Commissioner Lisa Hammond didn't think developers' plans to grow trees around the complex would hide its height.

"I know pines get really tall," she said, "but they don't get that tall."

Schraut said developers would be willing to sacrifice height for girth, proposing a three-story building spread over more land. That, though, would take away from some of the green area builders hoped to preserve on the property.

The commission approved the original four-story plan, but not without 17 conditions stipulated by the Planning Department.

Commissioner Anthony Palmieri was the only one to vote against the project.

Reach Michael Sanserino at msanserino@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1430.

Zoning commission endorses four-story assisted living facility 06/09/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, June 10, 2008 1:46pm]
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