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Land O'Lakes

Land O'Lakes plan revises vision, vocabulary

Florida Cracker is out and ''Florida vernacular'' is in as planners come up with a new proposal for the area's center.

By JAMES THORNER, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published December 29, 2002


LAND O'LAKES -- When activists pitched a plan in November to make over the center of Land O'Lakes in Florida Cracker style, many of the community's biggest landowners got crackling mad.

One month later, the Land O'Lakes Community Vision Plan is back, but this time it's more flexibly written with an eye toward gathering the widest possible support.

Gone are references to future development adhering to a Cracker style, by which supporters meant columns, tin roofs, front porches and balconies. The term rankled with some Land O'Lakes residents, who thought it conjured up images of shabby shacks.

The preferred term is now "Florida vernacular," said Avera Wynne, planning director with the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council.

Wynne's Pinellas County-based organization, which wrote the plan based on comments made at several community meetings in Land O'Lakes, sent the updated document to county administrators on Dec. 20. At the heart of the revisions are the six "planning options" with which Pasco County could make over Land O'Lakes.

The least intensive would encourage the creation of a lakeside city center in Land O'Lakes. The exact location is undetermined, although community activists envision it somewhere near Bell Lake and School roads.

From there, the options grow increasingly more restrictive, including mandatory architectural uniformity not just in the city center but on the U.S. 41 commercial corridor.

"They're in order from easiest to most difficult," Wynne said Monday as he considered a possible community meeting in January to drum up support for the document.

Fearing Land O'Lakes would develop into yet another interchangeable bland suburb, a group of residents met with Wynne for more than a year to establish a community identity.

County commissioners agreed to spend $20,000 for Wynne's group to write the vision plan. As a draft was presented in November, some Land O'Lakes landowners took turns attacking a document they complained robbed them of freedom to develop their property as they wished.

Now the plan is in the county's hands. County planners have suggested taking their time adopting it, perhaps in concert with a three-year overhaul to Pasco's growth blueprint, its comprehensive plan.

But approving the least restrictive town center option is no more complicated than passing an ordinance, Wynne said. Even architectural standards could become law if the county made minor adjustments to its comprehensive plan next year.

-- James Thorner covers growth and development in Pasco County. He can be reached at (813) 909-4613, toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 4613, or at thorner@sptimes.com.

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