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Proposed Safety Harbor neighborhood clears next hurdle

SAFETY HARBOR — Safety Harbor is poised to get a new subdivision after city commissioners agreed Monday to annex a 5-acre former auto salvage yard that's being primed for 21 homes.

The proposed neighborhood at 2805 Rigsby Lane, south of State Road 580 and east of McMullen-Booth Road, would include one- and two-story homes built to sell for roughly $300,000.

Tarpon Springs-based developers Pioneer Homes asked the city to annex the unincorporated land so future residents can hook up to the city's utilities.

Vice Mayor Cliff Merz voted against the annexation, but commissioners Nina Bandoni, Nancy Besore, Richard Blake and Mayor Joe Ayoub voted in favor.

"It's more residents, more people for downtown, more tax base, it's taking unused land and utilizing it for a better purpose," Ayoub said. "I think it's a good thing."

Merz said his nay vote was over concerns that developers are cramming too many homes into too little space. The one- and two-story homes are expected to be separated by about 10 feet, according to the city plans.

"It's no reflection on the quality of the development or anything else," Merz said. "I feel that's just too much for this particular area."

Pioneer homes cofounder George Zutes said he doesn't believe the small yard sizes would impact buyers.

"Whether it's (10) feet or (14) feet away, you're still going to look out your window and see your neighbor," he said. "I don't think it's going to mean a whole lot to the residents in the area that are interested in living in Safety Harbor's quaint town."

Zutes declined to comment on the financial scope of the project or give details about Pioneer's purchase of the property, which is pending. The purchase price will be public once the deal is closed.

His next step is to seek city approval for a construction plan, he said.

New developments occasionally stir controversy in Safety Harbor. But in this case, residents mostly seem happy about the change. Two people from neighboring communities turned up at a previous meeting to voice concerns about a privacy fence and water drainage, but none showed up at Monday's meeting.

And when a Tampa Bay Times reporter went door-to-door in the nearby Bermuda Court and North Bay Hills subdivisions, most people seemed to think a tree-lined cul-de-sac would be a welcomed upgrade to the area.

"This would be good for all of us here," said Sandra Romaniello, of Bermuda Court, before the proposal's first commission hearing in March. "Anything to improve it would be fine."

Brittany Alana Davis can be reached at bdavis@tampabay.com or (850) 323-0353.

Proposed Safety Harbor neighborhood clears next hurdle 05/21/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 21, 2013 4:02pm]
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