Despite modifications to appease state planners, the proposed new city in northern Hernando County remains a premature idea in a wrong location. Tuesday, Hernando commissioners should identify the proposed Quarry Preserve development for what it is: a proponent of sprawl that could drain shrinking government resources and lead to a still greater supply of housing than the market can absorb.
Those realities cannot be mitigated by the attractive conceptual plan that is Quarry Preserve, a planned community of 13,000 people on 4,300 acres stretching from Lake Lindsey Road and U.S. 98 to Citrus County. It offers a variety of housing stock, a town center, two golf courses (down from three) employment center, parks and wildlife corridor.
But it is a half-dozen miles north of the city of Brooksville and commissioners should not authorize urbanization of an area surrounded by agricultural land. It is classic leapfrog development and the landowners shouldn't get a pass just because the property is a nearly abandoned mine. That scorched-earth argument grows tiresome and the commission should consider the proposal on its merits, not on the notion that the owners are doing the community a favor by not walking away from the ravaged property from which they're already profited.
In January, commissioners agreed in a 3-2 vote to transmit the Quarry Preserve application to the state Department of Community Affairs for review. Tuesday, they will be asked to give final okay to the proposal even though their own staff refuses to give its stamp of approval. This time, it cannot be masked as passing the buck to a state agency. This is the commission's decision regarding the future of Hernando County.
If commissioners say "yes'' to a proposal that projects to a build-out by 2025, they are repeating the mistakes of the past that have led to an oversaturation of housing in a county that cannot consume it.
Commissioners should reject this plan and ask the owners to return in the future with a more reasonable request that better matches the diminished demand for housing lots and the public's inability to swallow infrastructure costs associated with a new city in a faraway location.