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Nobleton folks object to rezoning

A canoe business will expand despite residents' complaints about noise and traffic.

Folks in the quiet residential community of Nobleton got another jolt Monday that their town is changing whether they like it or not.

Over their objections, the Hernando County Planning and Zoning Commission recommended that the County Commission rezone a 5-acre parcel from residential to recreational use. The reclassification would allow Nobleton Canoe Outpost to add canoe storage, concessions, restrooms and parking.

To Outpost owner Bob Meers, the rezoning represented less than what he wanted, because he initially requested a change to commercial. To several residents who complained about Meers' plans, it foreshadowed an unwelcome incursion of more traffic and noise.

"Our primary opposition is, we don't want any additional development until it's needed," project foe Andrew Rendueles said after the Planning and Zoning Commission approved the rezoning. "Schools, churches and community centers bring families into a neighborhood. Not businesses."

Pauline Gideons, a 57-year Nobleton resident, also spoke against the move.

"The original intent of Mr. Noble was to have a retirement village for older people. . . . As it is now, I don't sleep nights because the rock trucks start at 2:30 a.m.," Gideons, who lives on Lake Lindsey Road, told the planning commission. "I hope you can see clear to deny this request."

Planning commissioners struggled with their decision.

"This is a small, sleepy area," said Chairwoman Mikel Renner, who eventually supported the rezoning. "The vast majority of residents seem to be opposed. This (Withlacoochee) river is one of our most precious resources. I have trouble with the idea of more earth-moving in the area."

Commissioners Al Sevier and Anthony Palmieri challenged Meers about his true intent, noting he had a sign on his property offering lots for sale with the possibility of changing the zoning to commercial. Sevier made a motion to deny the rezoning based on this sign.

"Well, I'll take it down," Meers offered, adding that he did not need all the property for his business.

"It's too late," Sevier responded.

Other planning commissioners chided Sevier for his stance.

"I don't think we can sit up here and make a decision based on someone's intent," Commissioner Bob DeWitt said. "I don't think I can read Mr. Meers' mind."

He and planning Commissioner Nick Nicholson called for a compromise. Renner joined them to defeat Sevier's motion. Then Nicholson moved to approve the rezoning but to have a 30-foot buffer along any residential property that abuts the expanded Canoe Outpost.

"If I can't get what I asked for, I'll take anything you'll give me," Meers said.

Palmieri joined the majority to approve that plan. The residents who opposed the idea pledged to continue their battle when the County Commission takes up the matter next month.

"We're going to ask for more stipulations," Rendueles said.

The concession stand should be smaller than 1,000 square feet, he said, and the buffer zones must be appealing to the eye. Change is okay, he said, but only if it is well thought out.

Earlier this summer, the residents pushed for and won changes in a similar zoning issue when Ray and Deborah Dickinson wanted to build a business on their land there. The Dickinsons, who had originally applied to set up a restaurant two years ago, won approval to open a seamstress shop.

The Dickinsons were the only people to speak Monday on behalf of Meers' proposal.

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