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Hundreds turn out to fight road

(ran PC edition)

This week, Kevin Wright promised to bring his Fox Ridge neighborhood out in force to fight a proposed extension of Chancey Road.

He delivered.

At least 300 residents packed a hearing Thursday night, primarily to chew out county officials for even thinking about cutting a 140-foot swath through the heart of their semirural equestrian community.

"You're ruining every one of our lives, and it's not right," came a shout from a woman in the crowd, followed by thunderous applause.

The hearing was part of a route study that county officials have been preparing for a year.

Maps show a future westward extension of Chancey Road that cut through some homes in the community south of State Road 54.

Residents erupted in anger after some received notices from the county about the proposal.

Amid the beeps of mobile phones and noise from an adjoining hallway, residents fired questions and criticism.

The crowd at Zephyrhills City Hall was standing room only and Zephyrhills City Manager Steve Spina had a police officer stationed in the chamber.

The right of way on the proposed extension would be wide enough for four lanes and sidewalks.

Following a route study prepared by its Tampa engineering consultant, the county is proposing to use one of three alignments to extend Chancey from Morris Bridge Road to Bruce B. Downs Boulevard.

All three routes would cross Fox Ridge and Foxwood boulevards and Steeplechase and Haystack roads, four of the main north-south roads in Fox Ridge.

County Commissioner Ted Schrader tried to reassure the crowd. Some accused county officials of notifying them too late.

"You do have time to get your comments in," Schrader said. "Building roads is usually the easy part. We don't like condemnation."

"Leave it alone then," a woman yelled.

Some at the meeting asked whether Schrader, whose district includes Fox Ridge, would take their feelings seriously.

"Are you going to represent us?" one man said.

Residents responded with a chorus of groans when a county official told them the speed limit in the area would be 45 mph.

"Get this out of our neighborhood," said Joe Zummo, who has lived in the community 18 years and wants to live there "18 more."

"We need your help."

The county is still years away from building the 7-mile Chancey Road extension, which is viewed as a third east-west corridor after State Roads 54 and 56.

Aside from Fox Ridge, the corridor would cross two relatively newly approved developments, Wyndfields and Meadow Pointe III, as well as the Wiregrass Ranch south of Saddlebrook Resort.

After the route study is finalized in April, county commissioners would have the option of approving one of the three routes in May.

_ This report includes information from Times files.