1. Hernando

Hernando County approves master plan for Trails at Rivard, but with fewer homes

BROOKSVILLE — Hernando County Commissioners on Tuesday granted a new master plan for the undeveloped portion of the Trails at Rivard, but they didn't allow all of the residential lots requested.

Rivard Development LLC was seeking approval for 325 residential units on lots ranging from 4,800 to 6,000 square feet. On Tuesday, the developer's representative, Richard Matassa, said that request had been reduced to 288 residences on 6,000 square foot lots.

But commissioners and residents still had concerns about the new plan's compatibility with existing lots of 14,000 square feet, about the limited capacity of the community's road system and especially about the single entrance and exit from the subdivision.

Attorney Darryl Johnston, representing the developer, made a familiar argument — that buyers today are looking for homes on smaller lots. When Rivard was first envisioned, "it was an entirely different market,'' he said. Johnston also said that it "flies in the face of logic'' to argue that the single access point wasn't acceptable when the project that was approved twice before with that same access.

The access road, which connects to U.S. 41 near the Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport, is not only a single way in and out, but also crosses a railroad track, creating more concerns about access if there is an emergency, residents have argued.

Commissioners approved their planning staff's recommendation of 240 lots ranging in size from 5,500 square feet to 7,700 square feet, placing larger lots next to existing portions of the community. County development services director Ron Pianta said the project was vested for that many units because of its previous county approval.

The county Planning and Zoning Commission had recommended denial of the master plan, noting the access issues and the Hernando County School District's concern that it did not have capacity in the neighborhood elementary school for students the project could generate. The developer will have to work out an agreement with the school district to resolve that concern, county officials said.

Contact Barbara Behrendt at or (352) 848-1434.