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Official frowns on plans for homes

© St. Petersburg Times
published March 3, 2002

LUTZ -- Martin Smith watched a video of Livingston Avenue's morning traffic quagmire. He visited the 40-acre tract off Livingston proposed for 96 houses and 110 townhouses. Then, last week, he recommended the county reject the development.

Smith, a Hillsborough County zoning hearing master, contradicted the recommendations of the county's planning staffers and left the County Commission to choose sides when it considers the project next week.

Smith agreed with staffers that the development would be compatible with the broad area of southern Livingston, which has several apartment complexes and mobile-home parks. But land immediately surrounding the site is developed with large-lot homes or no development at all, he noted.

He also was swayed by a neighbor's video of a bumper-to-bumper backup on Livingston, shown in the same Feb. 5 hearing where transportation experts said Livingston had capacity for more cars.

"It feels like the only time we're taken into consideration is at the hearing," said Eleanor Cecil, an organizer of the neighborhood's opposition to the plan. "Needless to say, we're very pleasantly surprised at the turn of events." (Petition RZ 02-0063)

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UPPER TAMPA BAY: A 155-home subdivision is being proposed for a 53-acre site off N River Road, west of Countryway.

Plans for River Chase include minimum lot sizes ranging from 4,500 square feet throughout most of the development to a minimum of 7,500 square feet for homes adjacent to Double Branch Creek.

A traffic analysis concluded that nearby roads, including Memorial Highway and Countryway Boulevard, would "continue to operate at an acceptable level" with the projected increase in vehicles, the petition says.

The developer plans to break ground on the project within six months of county approval.

A zoning hearing master is scheduled to hear the project May 20. (Petition 02-0524)

CARROLLWOOD: Joseph and Susie Chang, owners of an 8-acre parcel on Linebaugh Avenue west of Gunn Highway, are seeking a rezoning that will allow for a professional office park.

The one-story, detached buildings would range in size from 2,000 square feet to 8,000 square feet, the petition says. Uses would be limited to professional and medical business and a dance studio. Driveway access is being proposed only for Linebaugh Avenue.

A zoning hearing master is scheduled to hear the plan May 20. (Petition 02-0522)

NORTHDALE: Budget Rent-A-Car wants to set up a car rental station at the Pep Boys repair and retail shop on N Dale Mabry Highway, north of Hoedt Road.

Budget is seeking a major modification that would add automobile rental services as one of the property's approved uses. According to site plans, Budget is planning to use 20 parking spaces on the Pep Boys lot for rental vehicles. The company's counter would be located inside Pep Boys' 25,000-square-foot store.

A zoning hearing master is scheduled to hear the petition May 20. (Petition 02-0518)

County Commissioners heard the following petitions last Tuesday:

LUTZ: Commissioners remanded a request asking for overnight commercial truck parking and boat/trailer storage on 7 acres on Whitaker Road, east of U.S. 41. A zoning hearing master is scheduled to hear the petition April 8. (Petition 02-0064)

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TOWN 'N COUNTRY: East Group Properties won approval to develop 108,000 square feet of light industrial uses at the northwest corner of Benjamin Road and Flora Street. The 9-acre site is now occupied by a home and a communications tower. County staff, the Planning Commission and a zoning hearing master recommended approval of the rezoning. (Petition 02-0062)

CARROLLWOOD: The board approved a request to rezone a 0.6-acre parcel at the northeast corner of N Dale Mabry Highway and Linebaugh Avenue. The site will used as a retention pond and parking spaces taken away from the Cypress Pointe Office Center by eminent domain action during the Linebaugh Avenue widening project. (Petition 02-0085)

TOWN 'N COUNTRY: Commissioners also approved a request that will permit the conversion of a home at the southwest corner of Hanley and Jackson Springs roads into an office. (Petition 02-0112)

When and where

Hearings of county zoning hearing masters and land use hearing officers, and land use meetings of the County Commission, are held on the second floor of the County Center, 601 E Kennedy Blvd. Zoning hearings begin at 6 p.m., and commission meetings begin at 9 a.m. Both are televised on government access channels. Land use hearing officer hearings, which are not televised, begin at 9 a.m. For information, call 272-5920.

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-- Staff writer Bill Coats contributed to this column.

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