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Land O'Lakes neighbors: Bar unwelcome

A mostly empty lot near the shores of Lake Marjory in Land O'Lakes could become a watering hole of a different sort.

And neighbors on Hopson Road are unhappy about the beer-and-wine-serving fraternal lodge proposed for 3.8 acres between U.S. 41 and School Road.

The zoning application from the Florida Alpha-Lambda Chapter of the Phi Delta Kappa Fraternity mentions a 4,900-square-foot club with 24 parking spaces.

Pasco County zoning officials said the lodge is consistent with the surrounding homes, although they suggest the fraternity limit its hours of operation and improve Hopson Road.

According to its Web site, Phi Delta Kappa is an "international association of professional educators" with 132,000 members in 669 chapters. Club officers, listed as living in Pasco, couldn't be reached for comment.

Residents on Hopson Road, part of the semirural Lake Marjory Estates neighborhood, were upset when the zoning notice appeared in their mailboxes Thursday.

This is the same neighborhood that banded together last year in an unsuccessful attempt to defeat plans for a supermarket at School and Bell Lake roads.

The fight gave birth to Heart of Land O'Lakes, a group fighting haphazard growth.

Hopson Road resident Jane Brandt, washing her car in her yard Friday, said she couldn't imagine the fraternal lodge would mesh with her leafy residential neighborhood.

The lodge property backs up to Lake Marjory, an 18-acre boating lake ringed with homes.

"I don't think it will happen. Not in this neighborhood," said Brandt, who vowed to attend Phi Delta Kappa's zoning hearing in December.

She won't be there alone.

Peter Addessi, who owns the 11-unit Mary Lou Apartments across the street from the proposed lodge, was readying a fax to send to other landowners nearby.

"My concern is it doesn't bring down the neighborhood. When you have a bar, nothing good ever comes of it," Addessi said.

To build the lodge, Phi Delta Kappa needs a conditional-use permit from the county. The fraternity has contracted to buy the property for $212,000 from owner Gayle Morgan.

Two zoning hearings are scheduled: a Planning Commission meeting at 1:30 p.m. Dec. 5 in Dade City and a county commissioners meeting at 9:30 a.m. Dec. 18 in New Port Richey.

"We don't really mind growth," Brandt said. "We want it done right, and right now Pasco is not doing it right."

_ James Thorner covers growth and development in Pasco County. He can be reached at (813) 909-4613 or thornersptimes.com.

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