The zoning hearing master looked out at the crowd Tuesday night that had come to debate a planned subdivision on Keystone's Mound Lake. How many wanted to speak against the plan? he asked.
Half the hands in the auditorium went up.
The evening had just begun.
When the meeting ended two hours later, no decision had been made on the project. That will wait until April 7, when the hearing master, Andrew Baker, endorses or rejects Lake Development Co.'s plan to build 68 homes on 113 acres south of Lutz-Lake Fern Road in Keystone.
After his recommendation, the County Commission must vote on the development.
The company wants to build homes ranging in price from $400,000 to $3-million on 1- and 2-acre lots. Current zoning requires 5 acres per home. The gated subdivision would include a community park on Mound Lake.
"It's better to have a planned, restricted development than a development with no planning," said Jay Fechtel, president of Lake Development Co. "There are good developments, and there are bad developments."
The residents who already live near Mound Lake argued that 68 new homes would pour traffic onto country roads and suffocate Mound Lake. Environmentalists consider the lake one of the most pristine in Hillsborough County.
"If you get 68 homeowners playing on this lake, there is the potential for pollution, soil erosion and disturbing the wildlife," said Cinda Erbaugh, a neighbor opposed to the new homes.
She said deed restrictions would not stop residents from trashing the lake.
Laura Swain, a member of the City-County Planning Commission and a Keystone resident, said the development would bring suburban living to an area that wants to stay rural.
"The development had been compared to Avila," Swain said, referring to a high-priced neighborhood in Lake Magdalene. "I would challenge anyone to go into Avila and see country living."