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Activists mobilizing as auto dealers grow

(ran East edition)

Facing a rush of new auto dealerships, Wesley Chapel activists have gone into overdrive.

The We Love Wesley Chapel Committee has called a community meeting for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the clubhouse of the Lexington Oaks neighborhood north of State Road 54.

The main topic: the planned arrival next year of a string of auto dealerships, mostly on SR 54. Nissan, Honda, Toyota, Hyundai, Mazda, Pontiac, GMC and Buick have all grabbed sites on the highway.

We Love Wesley Chapel is an independent group formed by Alison Morano, chairman of the Greater Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce, and Peter Hanzel, a Republican party activist from Lexington Oaks.

Hanzel and Morano fear dealerships will not only detract from the appearance of the highways but displace other businesses they consider more suitable to the community.

The meeting is meant to rally residents to sign a "Petition to Examine the Impact of Numerous Car Dealerships in Wesley Chapel" and to attend upcoming Pasco County Development Review Committee meetings.

On Jan. 13, the development committee is scheduled to consider whether Ferman Automotive, opening Pontiac, Buick and GMC showrooms, can plant fewer trees and shrubs to screen the business from SR 54.

Toyota's construction plans are scheduled for a vote Jan. 27. Toyota wants to place its dealership on the southeast corner of SR 54 and Interstate 75, opposite a Honda dealer that has claimed the southwest corner of the interchange.

"Even if you can't make it Wednesday," Morano said on her group's Web site, "a show of support at the DRC meetings is crucial."