BROOKSVILLE — For months, the 7,000 residents of Timber Pines have been in the looming shadow of a proposed 60,000-square-foot, three-story mini storage facility near the main entrance to their neatly manicured, gated community in Spring Hill.
Many of them signed petitions blasting the plan; others wrote letters filling 99 pages as part of the county's rezoning file on the project.
While the Planning and Zoning Commission recommended approval several months ago, applicant Paul Chipok sought two delays in taking the plan to the County Commission.
When he finally came for the hearing this week, in a room full of Timber Pines residents, county commissioners unanimously turned down his application, despite the planning commission's recommendation and the recommended approval by the county's planning staff.
There were several sticking points, but the largest was that the building height allowed by county code was different than the height allowed on the property by Timber Pines' deed restrictions.
Chipok's last version of the mini storage unit included faux windows and a design to better fit with a residential community. It was still 43 feet and three stories tall, well within the county's allowable size. But the Timber Pines deed restrictions allow only a 35-foot-tall, two-story building.
Ron Pianta, the assistant county administrator for planning and development, explained that the county does not police deed restrictions. That was up to communities.
Chipok said he would continue to negotiate with the Timber Pines community association, but noted that the mini storage project met all county codes, the buffering requirements and everything that the planning staff had required. He said that the planning staff's own findings that the project was in compliance with the comprehensive plan was additional proof that the commission should grant the rezoning.
But Mark Nordman, the general manager for Timber Pines, said that the huge building on 1.5 acres beside the beautiful U.S. 19 entry into the largest residential community in the county was "unfathomable."
"The visual impact of that building," he said, "would be a substantial eyesore to the community."
Nordman also noted that there would be no further negotiations over the details of the building project and that the community would immediately seek a court injunction to prevent construction if the rezoning was approved.
Carrie Felice, the attorney for the association, argued that the size of the building alone would be a violation of the county comprehensive plan's requirement to not allow anything that would harm the integrity and character of residential neighborhoods.
Ultimately that was the argument Commissioner Jim Adkins stated when he made a motion to deny the rezoning, saying the mini storage facility was not compatible.
Commissioner Wayne Dukes said that sometimes the board has to deal with a situation when a business doesn't fit with a community, and this was one of those cases.
"We still have to vote our conscience," Dukes said.
Contact Barbara Behrendt at email@example.com or (352) 848-1434.