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Zephyrhills envisions vast growth

The plans call for 2,500 new homes to hold 7,500 residents and major additions to city services and infrastructure.

City officials are considering petitions to annex about 900 undeveloped acres north of Eiland Boulevard west of the city. What now is a cattle farm would become two vast residential developments.

City Manager Steve Spina on Monday called the developments "the biggest thing we've ever done."

The news comes to light a week after Pasco County revealed that Zephyrhills' total property value leaped $49.5-million in the past year, by far the largest increase of all Pasco's municipalities.

Under current plans, a residential and mixed use development called the Links of Trotter's Crossing would occupy 700 acres owned by Cullen and Brantley Smith. The other 200 acres, which lie between the Smith land and the Silver Oaks Golf and Country Club neighborhood, would become another neighborhood called the Cottages at Silver Oaks.

Mike Maconi Homes of Palm Harbor is developing the Links at Trotter's Crossing, and David Waronker of CBD Development Group is behind the Cottages project. Neither developer could be reached Monday.

But documents at City Hall reveal a major undertaking in the works.

Because of the project's scope, city planner Todd Vandeberg asked every department head to outline potential impacts. The numbers are striking.

The city, which the U.S. Census recently designated an urbanized area, would need a new $500,000 fire station and seven additional firefighters, according to Fire Chief Bob Hartwig.

Based on FBI recommendations, the police force would need to add a minimum of 15 officers and three civilian employees, police Chief Jerry Freeman said.

Major water and sewer extensions would be necessary to accommodate the new housing. A two-phase plan calls for two water lines, a sewer main, a new station and at least six workers. Utilities department head Louie Sellars estimated the total cost at nearly $2-million. The potential revenue, Sellars guessed, would be about $80,000 a month.

The city also stands to collect a heap in impact fees. Building official Bill Burgess estimated each 2,000-square-foot house would generate about $4,745 in fees. Multiplied by 2,500 homes, that's more than $11.8-million in city coffers.

"I think it's a huge project that has the potential to change the primary complexion of the town from primarily seniors and retirement to a definite family-type community," Spina said. "It's a whole new ball game really."

Spina anticipates a slew of new restaurants and other amenities to follow the influx of residents.

But it's all just part of a larger trend, Spina said.

"I think it's indicative of what's happening in the whole area _ the southern tier of Pasco County," he said. "It was only a matter of time."

Gerrie Selner, of the county's Growth Management Department, said Monday she has not seen plans for the annexation. Last year the county tried to block Dade City's absorption of land along Happy Hill Road, arguing that Dade City's plan allowed for higher density than the county's road could support. But a court ruled that the county could not veto annexation plans.

Annexation of the Smith property is contingent upon annexation of the two smaller parcels adjacent to Silver Oaks. Those areas would have to come into the city so as not to create an enclave, which the law forbids. The city's site plan review committee is set to consider the annexation of the smaller plots in a meeting this week.

Lance Smith, City Council president and son of Cullen Smith, said his father and uncle felt the time was right to sell their property.

"A bunch of offers came in," he said. "It's a very, very hot area right now. We just see the march coming this way."

He said his family would like to see the land become part of the city if it makes financial sense.

"I think it's a way that (the city) can have a little control of what goes to our west," Smith said. "It'll give us a nice west entryway."

The City Council will have final approval over whether the land is annexed. Smith said he would abstain from the vote on his family's property.

But whatever the outcome, Smith said Zephyrhills stands to gain.

"It's pretty exciting," he said. "It just goes along with the growth we're seeing right now and we're going to continue to see."

What it would mean

Zephyrhills is considering annexing 900 acres of land slated to become two residential developments. Here are some numbers detailing the potential impact on the city:

The developments:

900 total acres

2,500 new homes

7,500 additional residents

Fire Department

$500,000 fire substation

7 new firefighters totaling $280,000 annually

Police Department

15 new police officers at $25,000 each in initial costs for vehicles and equipment

3 civilian police employees at $300 each in initial costs

Utilities

Phase One:

$300,000 for two water lines to Simons Road

$25,000 service truck

$62,411 for personnel

Phase Two:

$150,000 water line on west side of property

$800,000 sewer main from Simons Road to treatment plant

$300,000 station

$25,000 service truck

$62,411 for personnel

Impact fees

$4,745 per 2,000-square-foot house

Multiplied by 2,500 homes, totals $11,862,500

_ Source: City of Zephyrhills

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