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Residents' group plans to avoid identity crisis

A committee working with the Planning Commission has been struggling to decide how to classify an area between Lutz and Keystone.

Residents helping craft community plans for Lutz and Keystone can't decide what to do with _ or even what to call _ the swath of land between N Dale Mabry Highway and the Suncoast Parkway, an identity vacuum encompassing Cheval, Calusa Trace and two growing developments to the north.

So far, they call it "the blue hole."

That's a reference to bluish aerial photos that planners have been using as the groups discuss Keystone and Lutz. Over several weeks, maps identifying Lutz and Keystone have covered their sections of the aerials, leaving the blue gap in between.

That's no accident from the viewpoint of the planners. Most of the blue hole needs no planning; it has been master-planned in detail and is half built out. It is dominated by a huge apartment complex, Lake Carlton Arms, and four developments: Cheval, Calusa Trace, VillaRosa and Heritage Harbor.

Yet committee members had qualms.

"What you're virtually saying is, "We don't care about this area. You can develop what you want,' " complained Elaine Post, a Cheval resident, in a Lutz meeting Tuesday.

Post and John Morse, president of the Calusa Trace Master Association, acknowledged their communities are thoroughly planned, but said planning attention still was needed along Dale Mabry, their eastern boundary, to prevent overdevelopment.

Gaye Townsend, a Lutz environmentalist, also noted that the headwaters of the Rocky and Brushy creek watershed flow through the area.

"I think we've got to include the blue hole area somewhere in the plan," said Larry Padgett, another Lutz resident.

Most of the residents at Wednesday's Keystone meeting opted for pulling it into their community because there still is land there that is undeveloped.

"If it falls to Lutz, are you sacrificing those people to less stringent (zoning requirements) because Lutz is more built out?" asked Steve Morris, president of the Keystone Civic Association. Under the county's long-range plan, rezonings won't be allowed for more than one house per five acres in much of Keystone. In Lutz, the limit generally is one home per acre.

But the "blue hole" shares a zip code and postal address with Lutz, and Post said her neighbors identify with Lutz.

The map puts Lake Park, as well as land south of Van Dyke Road and west of the park, in Keystone.

Keystone resident Eileen Hart suggested that area be considered both Lutz and Keystone because it connects the two rural communities.

"We need a transition between the two," Hart said. "It should be Lutz/Keystone to keep the status quo for protection."

The meetings are part of the Planning Commission's effort to carve out growth plans for Keystone and Lutz that fit the rural and semirural visions of those residents. They believe Hillsborough County's current land regulations dictate more suburban styles.

"The pressure for development is incredible," said James Fand, who lives on Whirley Road, part of the blue hole.

In other sentiments, the Lutz committee endorsed a reduction of potential development along Livingston Avenue to Keystone-like standards. Under the proposal, Livingston's vacant and agricultural properties would be limited to rezonings of one house per five acres.

The Keystone committee praised a proposal to turn the Fox's Corner area into a quasi-commercial node.

Barbara Dowling, vice president of the Keystone Civic Association, said she would fight against a typical convenience store, but she favors a structure that would be in keeping with the rural nature of Keystone.

"Even Mayberry RFD had a little town center," Dowling said.