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Rood plan is refused _ again

The City Council slammed the coffin lid on Ed Rood Sr.'s development plans again, and Rood says that may be the last time the council ever hears from him.

"I probably will just withdraw any further efforts to develop the golf course," Rood said Wednesday. "I just can't do anything until the city views it as a good thing for Oldsmar."

But some council members doubted Rood's gloomy prediction of the death of his 135-acre development.

"He's said that 50 times before and then he brought it back," Vice Mayor Tom Pinta said. "He's going to come back again."

Rood's architect, Jim Bradley, presented the council with a new set of plans Tuesday that, among other things, called for increasing the density from 420 apartments to 530 apartments and houses; changing the golf course from 18 holes to nine holes; and allowing a 400-foot-wide strip of commercial development along Tampa Road.

City Community Development Director Nick Staszko advised the council to approve some parts of Bradley's plan, including the golf course change and the higher density. But he recommended the council turn down the commercial zoning, which he called "22 acres of anything goes."

Last week the city Planning Board also recommended the council reject the commercial development part of the plan, but approve the rest. Several board members praised Bradley's plan as the best they had seen in the long and tangled history of Rood's project.

What Bradley was asking the council for Tuesday was permission to change the development agreement Rood signed in 1990 in order to accommodate his plan. That process takes months to complete and always includes two public hearings.

But the council wouldn't even agree to start the process. Twice the council members voted on Bradley's request, and twice Bradley lost on a 2-3 vote.

"It's that front 400 feet where we've got a problem," Mayor Jerry Provenzano said.

There was a bigger problem than just that, though. The basic fault, Pinta told Bradley, is that the people who live next to Rood's land "have lost faith in Mr. Rood. It isn't a question of being disagreeable. It's that we've been disappointed."

Since the mid-1980s Rood, a Tampa lawyer, has gone through a multitude of plan changes in trying to develop his property south of Tampa Road. But so far nothing has been built there, and the one-time Harbor Palms golf course has fallen into disuse.

The main reason the city has stuck with Rood all this time is because of the golf course. Harbor Palms was the only public course in the city, and city officials would like to see it reopened.

To pay for rebuilding the golf course, Rood wants to develop the property around it. That means, Provenzano said, the city has to decide what it's willing to give Rood in exchange for the benefit of having a golf course again.

And the council thought the price was too high this time, the mayor said.

But Bradley contended that there is no other way to develop the property to make money on it. And if no money is to be made, he said, then no bank is going to lend Rood the money to develop it.

After the council turned down the plan, Bradley said he didn't know what would happen next. "There was no Plan B," he said.

Bradley blamed the project's history of disappointing city officials for defeating the future he had planned for Rood's land.

"These guys are emotionally caught up in this thing, to the point where I don't think they're making the most prudent observations of the plan," Bradley said. "It appears they've got their minds made up no matter what they're presented."

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