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Ridge Manor school site gets approval from county

One down, two to go.

Hernando County Commissioners on Wednesday agreed to allow a school on 80 acres off McKethan Road in Ridge Manor.

The agricultural spot is one of three sites the Hernando County School District has recently targeted for new schools to help ease overcrowding throughout the district.

However, the location may not merit a school for many years, perhaps until 2011, because the east side of the county is not as crowded, said attorney Karen Gaffney, who represented the school district. She stressed there was no timeline for the school.

The site is owned by George and Martha Roberts of Zephyrhills.

The school would be the first Hernando County school east of Interstate 75, which would shorten bus rides for Ridge Manor children, many of whom commute to Brooksville.

Two county residents talked about the potential flooding problems at the site.

"That's going to be an underwater stadium," said Ann Story, pointing to a drawing of an athletic stadium on an early rendering of the plans. Story lives next to the proposed site and grew up in the area.

The district will work closely with Southwest Florida Water Management District to locate the low areas throughout the site, Gaffney said.

Development will create its own governing board

SPRING HILL _ The 1,250-home development planned to span Elgin Boulevard will now be called Sterling Hill and will have its own quasi-governmental agency that will be able to tax and levy bonds to maintain infrastructure and pay for amenities.

Formerly called Holland Springs, the 515-acre development will have a community development district governing its actions.

A community development district encompasses many of the duties of homeowner's associations. They are run by a governing board that can pass budgets with residents' input. Often, they can double a homeowner's property tax bill, as they levy assesments on residents to pay for amenities, including parks, lifeguards and security guards, as well as upkeep on roads and utilities.

"I would not do a major development without a CDD," said Donald Buck, president of Devco Developments, which is developing the project. He has started several other community development districts in his projects in Pasco and Hillsborough counties.

The Sterling Hill Community Development District is not the first for the county, but with 1,250 homes, it would be the largest.

Killarney and Sherman Hills developments also both have community development districts, Planning Department Director Larry Jennings said. Silverthorn also had such a district, but it folded.