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Town home community planting roots

That's no football field they're clearing in front of East Lake High School. Instead, Donaldson Homes of Clearwater is laying the groundwork for 40 two-story town homes.

Located at the southeast corner of Bryan Lane and Silver Eagle Drive, the development is called Savannah Oaks and is spread over 8.2 acres. The town homes are not far from where another development, Cypress Meadows, earlier this year drew residents' protests about increased traffic and small lot sizes.

So far, Savannah Oaks has not been controversial. The developer's plans are undergoing a routine site review, said Paul Cassel, director of zoning for Pinellas County.

The Savannah Oaks site did not need a rezoning. Cypress Meadows did. Because Savannah Oaks is on the south side of Bryan Lane, which is the community's dividing line for zoning densities, the developer can build five units per acre, Cassel said.

On the north side of Bryan Lane, the zoning is a half-unit per acre, or one house for every 2 acres.

Donaldson already is digging the development's roads, said Tom Hagen, a salesman for the company. He expects full approval for the project.

"It's going to go. It's only formalities," Hagen said.

According to the county property appraiser's office, Donaldson paid $550,000 for the site in March.

Savannah Oaks is planned as attached homes, except for two corner units that are detached. The design includes columns for a Georgian look, Hagen said, and old-fashioned streetlamps.

"This is going to be something that East Lake does not have," he said. "The architecture and the style of it _ they just don't have anything like it in the East Lake corridor."

Donaldson plans to offer two floor plans: one of 2,200 square feet that will sell for $160,000, and a second of 2,600 square feet for $180,000.

There should be a market for the properties, said Cookie Gladieux, a Realtor who works in the East Lake area.

"The square footage is good, and the prices are good," she said. "In East Lake, if you can buy something like that for under $200,000, you're doing okay."

Donaldson is promoting the homes as offering a maintenance-free lifestyle, ideal for "either the single, working parent or the dual-income parents who have the kids but don't have a lot of time to do the yard," Hagen said.

Both models will have three bedrooms, 2{ baths and attached two-car garages, he said. Some will have porches, and second-floor decks also are an option in some units.

The development does not include a pool, but all the units have some outdoor recreation area, Hagen said.