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Tuesday night's question: How rural is right?

Forty-two acres sits at the southwest corner of Livingston Avenue, Lutz's rural frontier, and Collier Parkway, Land O'Lakes' suburban frontier.

What should be built there?

That's the question set for debate Tuesday night before a Hillsborough County zoning hearing master. Developers are proposing 2 acres of offices at the corner and 35 houses behind them.

It is one of two proposed neighborhoods, both near Livingston Avenue, to be discussed Tuesday. The other calls for 15 homes off Sunset Lane.

The county's planning department endorsed both projects as compatible with their surroundings. The county Planning Commission, assigned to take a broader view, said both are too intense, and neither is consistent with Hillsborough's long-range plan.

The Lutz Civic Association, which has been fighting strenuously to preserve the Livingston corridor for rural large-lot housing, tentatively opposes both. But Carolyn Meeker, the association's treasurer, said officers were planning to meet Monday with the Collier developer.

"It's incompatible with the rural area," Meeker said. "This is one of the most rural areas of Lutz.

"Unfortunately, Pasco County is right across the road and Pasco County is going nuts."

Hillsborough's planning commission agreed with Meeker, calling the development "an inappropriate intrusion of a suburban residential development pattern in this rural residential area."

The county planning department noted the disparities across the county line when it endorsed the proposal, called Lincolnwood Estates. One of the department's conditions would be aimed at dictating a more rural style along the project's south property line. It would require larger lots and fewer homes there, reducing the subdivision to 31 houses instead of 35.

As proposed, Lincolnwood's lots would range from a half-acre to seven-tenths of an acre. Eleven acres on the property are off-limits wetlands.

In March, the county lowered the potential for development in Lutz by setting a maximum density of one house per acre for most undeveloped land.

But the planning department said an "infill" exception should be made for the Sunset Lane project, because most of the adjacent property is zoned for lots smaller than an acre.

The neighborhood is proposed for a 10-acre north-south strip east of Walker Road. Builder Brad Boger is proposing half-acre lots.

Meeker argued that surrounding neighborhoods, many built in the 1970s, shouldn't be used as precedents.

"Those were under old guidelines and old rules," she said. "It's unfortunate that they're using that as their supporting stuff."

_ If you have a story about Lutz, call Bill Coats at 225-3469.

If you go

Tuesday's zoning hearing will begin at 6 p.m. at the County Center, 601 E Kennedy Blvd., Tampa. It will be televised on Time Warner cable Channel 15.

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