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Neighbors ask planned community to blend in

Published Sep. 29, 2005

The developer of the proposed Odessa subdivision has offered to reduce the number of homes, but area residents want other changes.

A developer has offered some concessions to residents who say a planned subdivision on 117 acres near Tobacco Road and Hatton Road is too dense. But neighbors say there's more to their objection than too many houses.

"We would like to see a blending into the rural community rather than being a walled off subdivision," said Laura Swain, a Keystone resident and former member of the Hillsborough Planning Commission. "That's what we have a hard time getting through to them."

Dimitri Artzibushev originally asked the county to rezone the land from one home per acre to a planned development that can accommodate up to 215 homes in a subdivision called Lake LeClare Groves.

The zoning is also dependent on an amendment to the county's comprehensive plan, a blueprint for future growth. Currently, the plan does not allow for the higher zoning. Planning Commission review of a request to amend the plan regarding the property has been postponed until the fall.

The property is bisected by the Veterans Expressway, and about 20 percent of the land falls within the county's designated Urban Service Area, a boundary between areas intended for heavier development and those that are to remain more rural. Consequently, residents fear the development would promote suburban sprawl.

"We're trying to keep Keystone rural," said Barbara Dowling, who owns property on Lake LeClare and is vice president of the Keystone Civic Association. The proposal is "totally against our new (comprehensive) plan."

In recommending denial, zoning hearing master Andrew A. Baker concluded that the proposal is not compatible with surrounding development.

Baker also wrote that, "as proposed, the project turns its back on the existing development pattern and establishes large buffers, setbacks and retention areas to separate the units rather than connecting to the existing rural fabric of the area."

Those words were music to the ears of community activists.

"We were in agreement with what the hearing master wrote," Swain said. "We felt they were not addressing the hearing master's concerns."

Artzibushev met with residents after the recommendation for denial in June, offering to reduce the number of homes in the project to 143.

The planning commission staff said 150 homes would be allowable. The county's planning and growth management staff said the developer could go as high 159 homes, Dowling said.

Residents, though, said reducing the number of houses is just the start of the changes Artzibushev needs to make.

"They came out and started talking to us about the changes and we said no," Swain said.

Developers went back to the drawing board after the zoning hearing master recommended denial, and sent a revised site plan to Baker for another review rather than go before the Hillsborough County Commission, which will have the final say, said Steve Allison, executive planner for the county. The new plan will be heard Sept. 7.

Neither Artzibushev nor his representatives could be reached for comment.

"The bad news is we'll have to be before the zoning hearing master and do it over again," Dowling said.

If you have a story about Odessa call Jackie Ripley at 226-3468.