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Planners give nod to 471-acre subdivision

Despite what some called unprecedented cooperation between a developer and homeowners, it took an hour and a half for county officials to sign off on plans for what will be called Dupree Reserves in Land O'Lakes.

The planning commission voted 10-1 in favor of the rezoning of the 471-acre project, dubbed Dupree Gardens until neighbors complained that the name was too similar to the older Dupree Gardens Estates.

That's not all that they had complained about. After original plans were submitted last year by Beazer Homes of Tampa, worried neighbors won significant concessions _ among them reducing the number of planned homes, townhouses and condominiums from 1,151 to 743.

Also, Beazer agreed to eliminate plans for homes on lots as narrow as 40 feet. Entrances will also be put on Ehren Cutoff and the future northward extension of Collier Parkway instead of Hale Road.

Saying that it was the first time he had seen this type of cooperation in 24 years, Beazer attorney Ben Harrill told commissioners Wednesday that the name of the development would be Dupree Reserves.

But some weren't satisfied. Commission member Dennis Smith voted against the plans, which now go to the County Commission for final approval July 29, because he wanted additional guarantees.

For instance, Amye Cox, a resident of Dupree Gardens Estates who said she represents a different group of neighbors, presented 13 requests.

Among them was a guarantee that the developer will preserve a sliver of land on Dupree Drive in its natural state instead of turning it into a park.

Harrill said the property on Dupree would be used only for trails, something Cox did not oppose.

Cox, who is chairwoman of Central Pasco Sports Coalition, has pushed the county for more park space for children. She said plans for a superpark in the area should help the shortage.

Also, Cox asked that the developer consider not putting street lights in the development.

Commissioners objected.

Commission member Frank Kobelski asked her how she would feel if a child were injured by wildlife that was not visible without the street lights.

"I think you'd be heartbroken if something like that happened," Kobelski said, adding that he lives in a community with street lights.

"I still see the moon," he said. "I still see the stars."

In other business, commissioners unanimously approved the rezoning of the first village in Connerton, a proposed 9,000-home community in Land O'Lakes.

This first village will hold 353 single-family houses and townhomes on more than 600 acres. They will range from $150,000 to $500,000. If the County Commission gives final approval, construction can begin early next year, representatives of the developer said.