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Vacant county lots bother Fawn Ridge residents

The county has held four lots in the middle of the Citrus Park subdivision more than 10 years for future water retention. Neighbors say the empty lots bring down property values.

By JACKIE RIPLEY, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 2, 2002


CITRUS PARK -- Fawn Ridge has been around for more than a decade and is still four lots short of build out.

Now homeowners fear it might stay that way for another three decades.

"They're not lots in the middle of nowhere; they're interior single-family lots," said Shawn College, past president of the Fawn Ridge Homeowners Association. "It's house, house, house and all of a sudden four vacant lots."

The lots, which are on the west side of Sheldon Road just north of Beeler Road, are still vacant because the county bought them before widening Sheldon Road in case it needed space for a retention pond.

The road project was finished several years ago and since the lots were not used for retention, homeowners assumed the county would put the land on the market.

When that didn't happen they asked why.

"They may need the land for a retention pond when the Citrus Park Drive extension is built," College said. But "that road might not be built for 30 years, or not at all."

College contends the burden on homeowners far outweighs any potential need the county might have for the property.

"It's really an eyesore that's been there for too long," College said. "The county is being unreasonable."

The lots are overgrown and backed by a chain link fence instead of the masonry wall which surrounds the rest of Fawn Ridge. They sit at the end of a cul de sac, and neighbors say they are bringing down property values.

Tom Thompson, transportation director at the county's planning and growth management department, said he is aware of the neighborhood's concerns and his department has reviewed the Fawn Ridge request.

It's now up to the real estate department to decide what to do with the land, Thompson said.

Real estate is expected to make a decision in a few weeks, Thompson said. But the county will most likely need to retain enough land for any future right- of-way or drainage needs. Either way, a portion of the property might be rendered too small for building.

Whoever buys the land should be responsible for making sure the lots are big enough to build on, or know that they will have to replat the lots, Thompson said.

The new property owner also would likely be responsible for building and maintaining the masonry wall.

* * *

-- Jackie Ripley can be reached at (813) 269-5308 or ripley@sptimes.com.

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