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Chill greets school's zoning request

A hearing officer says that Independent Day School's plan for a new administration building would contravene zoning patterns.

Plans for a new administration building at Independent Day School were set back this week after a land use hearing officer announced he would recommend the school's rezoning petition be denied.

Hearing officer Martin Smith concluded that if IDS were allowed to build an administration building on a narrow 1.47-acre piece of land on Orange Grove Drive, it would be an instance of "spot zoning," unrelated to the established land use and zoning patterns in the area.

The IDS rezoning request would be "injurious to the overall public welfare and to the polices set forth . . . relating to the protection of existing neighborhoods," he added.

Hillsborough county commissioners will strongly consider Martin's recommendation when they vote on the rezoning request on Jan. 23.

For months, neighbors have opposed the private school, fearing IDS will buy more residential land and seek more rezonings as it continues to outgrow its main site at 12015 Orange Grove Drive.

IDS recently built a middle school on 6 acres west of its main campus. Now residents are fighting the school's plan to develop the residentially zoned 1.47-acre lot nestled between two residential properties on the east side of Orange Grove Drive.

The school originally asked for a special-use permit to build a 5,000-square-foot day care center and playground on that site, but withdrew that request and asked instead to rezone all three of the school's parcels, a total of about 15 acres, to planned development.

At a land use hearing earlier this month residents argued against the rezoning. School representatives countered that IDS's planned expansion would alleviate traffic congestion during drop-off and pick-up times, and pointed out that two neighbors on both sides of the 1.47-acre parcel have written letters supporting the rezoning.

Planning and Growth Management staff support the IDS rezoning request as long as the building looks like a home and has no signs. However, the City-County Planning Commission is against the rezoning plan because it could have a negative impact on the area's residential character.

To reach Tim Grant call 226-3471, or e-mail him at grantsptimes.com.

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