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Commissioners balk on age limits

© St. Petersburg Times
published April 25, 2003

County commissioners expressed reservations Wednesday about enforcing a proposed age restriction that would affect about 50 homes in Sun City Center.

Hillsborough planning and zoning officials have proposed creating an area in the community that would require at least one resident within a home to be 55 or older. Also, visits by anyone under 18 would be limited to 30 days per year.

Residents now living in that area would be grandfathered in, and anyone with exceptional family situations like a death or illness could ask the county for a variance.

Sun City Center Community Association leaders asked the county to create the overlay district because they want to protect the integrity of their community, which was founded 40 years ago for retirees.

Over the years, four dozen or so homes were either purchased without a covenant that includes the over-55 provision, or had deed restrictions that have since expired.

A few commissioners Wednesday, skeptical about whether the proposal could be enforced, said they want to see a detailed plan from code enforcement. They also want to know how much it would cost.

Code enforcement manager Dexter Barge conceded his department does not yet know how it would enforce the age restriction. Paula Harvey, director of planning and zoning, said she does not foresee any great costs because there are so few homes in question.

"You're saying this issue is not really a big deal, so why are we moving forward?," countered Commissioner Kathy Castor, whose district includes Gibsonton. "You're asking the entire county to fund a code enforcement program for a small area. I can tell you, my area has significant code issues to be taken care of."

Commissioner Pat Frank asked staff to investigate whether residents within the district could be taxed to cover the cost.

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