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Community plan may get another look

Published Sep. 27, 2005

Commissioners might reconsider their decision last week to delete restrictions on commercial development.

Hillsborough County commissioners have agreed to at least discuss whether to take another look at the commercial development restrictions for the Lutz and Keystone/Odessa community plans.

They made the decision Wednesday at the urging of Lutz Civic Association president Denise Layne, who said she met last week with Steve Seibert, head of the state Department of Community Affairs. The department, which oversees Florida's growth management, is the next step in the plans' screening process. The plans return to county commissioners for final approval.

Layne said Seibert "was willing to work with the county to resolve the legal question issue with the Lutz Keystone plans."

Last week, commissioners endorsed the community growth blueprints, but only after deleting new limits on commercial development, expressing fears that property owners would claim the restrictions amount to a compensable "taking" of their property and sue.

That decision prompted residents to complain that the guts of the plans had been ripped out. Consequently, Layne wants the County Commission to instruct County Attorney Emmy Acton to prepare a memorandum of law that would provide what she called "a comfort level" for county commissioners fearful of lawsuits.

"We need to resolve the legal issue that hung up part of the community plan," Layne said. "It is legally defensible to leave the commercial component in the plan."

Commissioner Jan Platt moved to place Layne's request on a future agenda for discussion, probably in June.

"Having an actual written opinion is important to the community plan," said Keystone resident Laura Swain. "We need to get that on the table and clarify it. Otherwise, we're spinning our wheels."

_ Jackie Ripley can be reached at (813) 226-3468 or