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Close quarters has new neighbors battling

A resident of Logan Gate says the builder of the Villas at New Port Landing did not provide enough of a buffer between the two subdivisions.

By TIM GRANT, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published May 10, 2002


CARROLLWOOD -- When she moved to Logan Gate 23 years ago, Edna Lou Nastasy paid a premium for her lot.

It was located far from the other homes, next to an open pasture at the edge of the subdivision on Henderson Road.

Now the cows and horses that had grazed on the field next to Nastasy's home are long gone, and a developer recently turned the vacant land into a rental housing complex.

It has not been easy adjusting to her new neighbors at the Villas at New Port Landing. A two-story house looks into her backyard, and some children have thrown toys and trash over the wall into her yard.

"I'd like to have some privacy to sit on my pool deck," she said. "If I shower, I can't leave my windows open to let steam out."

Nastasy unloaded her complaints on County Commissioner Jim Norman during a town hall meeting in April at Sickles High School. Norman asked county staff to find out if the owner of the complex is required to fix the problem.

"A wall was constructed between the properties," Norman wrote. "There was supposed to be a row of holly trees planted along the wall to add as a buffer, but this has never been accomplished."

David Canepari, president of Gatehouse Management in Mansfield, Mass., said the company has exceeded its obligation to provide buffering. He said holly trees were planted about six months ago. In time, they will grow taller than the wall.

"We've worked very hard to be good neighbors," Canepari said. "Unfortunately, nothing can satisfy Ms. Nastasy. She wants instant gratification."

According to Jim Blinck, a Hillsborough County Code Enforcement supervisor, the county cannot force Gatehouse Management to provide buffering because the owner built single-family homes on the perimeter and placed multifamily units in the center of the development.

"When you have residential homes abutting each other, there is no screening or buffering requirement," Blinck said. "There's nothing I can do about the kids throwing stuff over the wall. That's a neighbor issue."

The 26-acre complex just south of Gunn Highway is a joint venture between the Boston-based Gatehouse Group and the Alliance for Affordable Housing, a state initiative that provides low-cost housing for lower-income families.

Nastasy is not the only Logan Gate resident with complaints about kids throwing toys and trash over the wall.

"They throw their drink cups and candy papers," said Irma Portalatin. "And when the ball goes over the wall, they climb over to get it."

But the complaints go both ways.

Karen DeArce, the Villas on-site property manager, said children from Logan Gate also come over the wall. She suspects they are responsible for vandalism that occurred at the construction site before the complex opened late last year.

"They come to visit kids who live here," DeArce said. "They all go to school together, and kids will be kids."

-- Tim Grant can be reached at 269-5311 or at grant@sptimes.com.

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