Houses can go up, but residents don’t get a back door into the Spring Hill country club

Hernando County Planning Commission gives nod to housing community east of upscale Silverthorn development.
Silverthorn Golf Club   	Times (2008)
Silverthorn Golf Club Times (2008)
Published July 9
Updated July 9

BROOKSVILLE — A proposed 90-unit housing community sandwiched between the upscale Silverthorn development and the Suncoast Parkway got a preliminary nod of approval Monday from the Hernando County Planning and Zoning Commission, despite concerns from the neighbors. But its residents won’t get direct pedestrian or golf cart access to Silverthorn, as originally was proposed.

The 40-acre parcel, which is west of and adjacent to Jumper Loop and west of the Suncoast Parkway, was approved for a master plan in 2007 allowing for 49 units. But no construction was started, and that plan has expired.

Acorn to Oaktree Investments, LLC, proposes a new master plan with lots of about 70 feet by 155 feet, slightly smaller than in the previous plan. It would have a 15-foot vegetative buffer along its boundary with Silverthorn.

Added to The Loop Spring Hill development, as it is being called, is a unique housing feature. A second doorway on the front of each home would allow delivery drivers to securely drop off packages — and even perishables — since the compartment would be refrigerated.

Silverthorn residents were unimpressed with the first-of-its-kind security feature and far more focused on their own community's security.

The original proposal included potential pedestrian and golf cart access to the adjacent Silverthorn Country Club, "since a number of the project residents are expected to become members of the Country Club,'' according to the application. Such access, the applicant notes, "could also be gated and would require an agreement with Silverthorn Golf Course owner or homeowners association.''

But that was not acceptable, according to Robert Nyovich, president of the board of directors for Silverthorn.

"We are 100 percent opposed to that,'' he told the Planning Commission on Monday. The community in the past was willing to go to court to keep its gated community secure. Anyone gaining access to the golf course, in essence, gained access to the entire community, he explained.

Don Lacey of Coastal Engineering, who represented the applicant, noted that the golf course has faced difficult financial realities, and there was interest in having residents from the new community join. Those residents could provide much-needed customers for the Silverthorn Country Club and its restaurant, he said.

But given the opposition, Lacey said the developer dropped the direct-access idea. County officials made it clear that would be a private issue between the developer and the homeowners group. So would any negotiation about having The Loop connect with utilities inside Silverthorn. Overtaxing existing utility connections was a concern of Silverthorn residents.

Other residents worried about their property values and the impact on their neighborhood. They voiced concern about how they would be buffered from the new community, whether homes there would be similar to Silverthorn homes with similar landscaping and sidewalk requirements, and whether there would be deed restrictions there, as well.

Lacey and the developers said the community would be deed-restricted and landscaped, and would require sidewalks. Houses would run in the $200,000 to $300,000 range.

Planning Commission members questioned access into and out of the community. County rules require any subdivision of 50 or more units to have two means of access.

Given site limitations, the only solution was to provide The Loop a wide boulevard entrance off Jumper Loop. Houses are arranged around a looping street, so residents could go the other way to get out of the subdivision during an emergency, Lacey explained.

A suggestion for an emergency exit through Silverthorn brought immediate frowns from that community's representatives.

The master plan changes will go to the Hernando County Commission for a final decision.

Contact Barbara Behrendt at bbehrendt@tampabay.com or (352) 848-1434.

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