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Brooksville, county work out development dispute

Hernando County and the city of Brooksville have resolved differences over the Majestic Oaks subdivision that earlier this week seemed likely to take the two sides to court.

"Basically the issues we were concerned about got wrapped up," said Larry Jennings, the county's planning director.

The agreement was reached in a series of discussions this week between city and county planners and the developer, Majestic Oaks Partners LLC.

Because of the understanding reached Friday, a previously scheduled joint meeting of the City Council and the County Commission to discuss the matter has been canceled.

The 428-acre site of the development, on Mondon Hill Road, was annexed into the city last month.

Key elements of the recent agreement include a commitment from the city to spend at least 75 percent of the transportation impact fees it collects from the project on Mondon Hill's intersections with U.S. 41, Jasmine Drive and McIntyre Road.

The city and the developer also agreed that Mondon Hill road can handle only the level of development included in the development agreement the City Council voted to approve Monday.

Jennings had earlier said language in the agreement, which allows 600 houses and 100,000 square feet of retail, might pave the way for more intense development.

The previous agreement between the city and the developer still stand, said Bill Geiger, the city's community development director.

But the council and the commission will vote on new, separate agreements to formalize the results of this week's staff-level meetings.

The dispute over the development came to a head last month when the city tentatively agreed to allow the developers, who include longtime mining executive Tommy Bronson, the right to build 999 houses as well as 130,000 square feet of retail space.

That would generate too much traffic for Mondon Hill to handle, county planners said.

And the larger issue, Jennings said, was that the city was granting a developer the rights to a county facility with little consultation.

Partly in response to this objection, the city on Monday approved the project at its current size, the same size allowed in an earlier county rezoning.

Because of Jennings' objections, though, the county was poised to sue the city before deciding to attempt to resolve the matter in the now-canceled meeting.

Geiger said the two sides were able to make more progress this week because he fully understood the county's objections.

He also said he will act on an informal agreement between city and county planners _ that the city bring such matters to the county earlier in the process.

"At this point, my intent and plan is that as soon as we get official information (from the developers) that is in writing, I will coordinate that with the county," Geiger said.

Dan DeWitt can be reached at (352) 754-6116 or dewittsptimes.com.

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