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Despite objections, Hernando planning commissioners give thumbs-up to auto repair shop

BROOKSVILLE — Residents, representatives and the developer of a new senior apartment complex east of High Point are not happy with a planned automotive repair and body shop proposed at Cortez Boulevard and Rolling Rock Drive.

Despite their concerns about noise, odors and traffic, the Hernando County Planning and Zoning Commission on Monday voted to recommend approval of the rezoning of the 5.5-acre, L-shaped property. The application now goes to the County Commission for a final vote.

Representing applicant E.J.G. Land Holding LLP, attorney Darryl Johnston explained that the owner of Mike's Auto Body on the Pasco side of County Line Road wants to expand into Hernando County. Showing photos of the other location, Johnston said the company was of good quality and not a "fly by night" operation.

According to the county's zoning code, the property could offer auto shop services under the current zoning if the business also sold cars. But simply having a repair shop on the site requires rezoning.

Nine of the 14 new residents of the apartment complex have signed petitions against the shop. Ultimately, that phase of the complex will have 103 apartments, according to Wayne McDaniel, who represented the complex.

The developer of both the Vista Park senior apartments under construction north and east of the proposed shop, and a similar project directly north, has expressed concern about how the shop would affect residents, said Buddy Selph, representing developer Gary Blackwell.

Blackwell himself said the apartment project to the north, which is under contract, might not even sell if the auto repair and body shop were approved.

"It doesn't fit there,'' he said. "This is an industrial use on a commercial district.''

Ron Pianta, assistant county administrator for planning and development, showed the planning commission a map depicting the commercial properties lining Cortez Boulevard. Nearby uses include a Tire Kingdom and a proposed grocery store, officials said.

Members of the Planning and Zoning Commission raised numerous questions and ultimately voted unanimously to recommend approval, but asked for a higher fence, taller trees as a buffer, sound proofing to buffer noise and prohibitions from storing vehicles outside and performing work on vehicles outside.