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Residents voice objections to proposed rezoning along Powell Road

Published Sep. 9, 2015

BROOKSVILLE — Residents of Oakwood Acres and other nearby communities are distressed about a proposed rezoning that would change an adjacent 37.6-acre rural residential and agricultural parcel to a mix of office professional, apartments and single-family homes.

The rezoning request by applicant Mohamed Shahout for property at Powell and Gloucester roads will be heard by the Hernando County Planning and Zoning Commission on Monday.

Shahout proposes 55,000 square feet of office professional use on 5 acres, up to 300 units of multi-family apartments on 20 acres, a single-family residential development of 15 units on 5 acres and another single-family residential development of 15 units on 7.6 acres.

A neighborhood public input meeting in late July brought out dozens of residents from Oakwood Acres, Springwood Estates, Deerfield and Tangerine Estates who had questions and concerns about the proposal, which will back up to their semirural neighborhoods.

The county's planning staff has recommended denial of the rezoning.

"The proposed land uses include office professional and multi-family, inconsistent and incompatible with the scale and character of the area," county staffers wrote in their review of compliance with the county's comprehensive plan.

The staff goes on to say "the site directly abuts the rural land use category and does not provide an appropriate transition which would be provided by a low-density zoning district.''

Nearby resident Patrick Casey wrote an email to the county saying that a traffic study, economic impact study and environmental impact study are needed to measure the actual effect on the neighborhood.

"The reason why residents of these communities bought houses in this area is because of the low density rural feel to the area," he wrote. "The proposed land use change would negatively impact this community."

"We bought and built our homes in Oakwood Acres on one-acre lots with the expectation our subdivision would remain rural," residents Jim and Bette Brock wrote to county Commissioner Diane Rowden.

A past effort to rezone the same area into half-acre lots failed 10 years ago, and the Brocks noted "what is being proposed now is so much worse than subdividing this property into half-acre lots as was proposed in 2005. Commercial buildings and apartments are not compatible with the county's comprehensive plan."

Pinellas County resident Nicholas DelCorso wrote to the county, saying he would cancel a contract to buy nearby property, noting "one of the reasons we decided to move from Pinellas County on the beach to this neighborhood is the acre lots per house and that it wasn't commercial.''

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