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Neighbors oppose plans for apartments

By Times Staff Writer
Published February 13, 2004

BRANDON - Plans by Lutheran Services of Florida to build an apartment building for low-income elderly people has met opposition from Brandon residents.

In October, Lutheran Services filed an application with Hillsborough County to rezone 4.69 acres on the northwest corner of Kingsway Road and E Morgan Street from business/professional and residential to planned development. The organization wants to build a 57-unit apartment building on the parcel, which is adjacent to Apostles Lutheran Church.

But nearly 20 people living near the site have sent letters and signed petitions objecting. The documents express concern about putting a three-story building in a residential area dominated by one-story homes. They also worry about increased traffic and flooding.

"A three-story building will be grossly intruding on this neighborhood as I'm sure there will be windows in these apartments which will look down on our backyards," wrote Elaine Lyle. "This is an older neighborhood with no storm culverts and we now have a rainwater runoff problem. The loss of ground saturation will only increase the problem."

At least one county agency is siding with the residents. A site plan review from the department of Planning and Growth Management confirms that the area already has drainage problems. Complaints about drainage from the community would require that the developer be held to the highest standards for controlling stormwater run-off.

A zoning hearing master is scheduled to consider the request Feb. 24. (Petition 04-0053)

BRANDON: Neighbors of Bell Shoals Baptist Church of Brandon are opposing the church's expansion plan.

The church has asked county officials to rezone 39.37 acres at the northwest corner of Bell Shoals and Brooker roads to planned development.

The church wants to expand its school to accommodate an additional 1,475 students, bringing the total student body to 2,000. The school serves students from kindergarten through 12th grade. Bell Shoals Baptist also wants to increase its sanctuary to fit 3,500 church-goers.

Residents in the area, however, worry about increased traffic generated by the expansion.

"The roads can't handle the volume as it is," said Drew DeCarvalho, who lives about one-half mile south of the church on Belle Timbre Avenue. On Sundays, he said, traffic on Bell Shoals Road is often backed up to his street, even though a sheriff's deputy directs traffic before and after the church's three services.

"They get people out of services very well, but the people who live here can't get in and out," DeCarvalho said. He said similar problems are likely to occur every day if the school expands to four times its current size.

A zoning official is scheduled to consider the request Feb. 24. (Petition 04-0285)

RUSKIN: Beazer Homes has asked the county to rezone 932 acres on the south side of Big Bend Road between Interstate 75 and U.S. 301 to planned development. The company wants to put 2,260 homes and some commercial buildings on the site, which currently has agricultural zoning that allows one home per 5 acres.

Most of the property is owned by Frank Diehl, owner of Tomatoes of Ruskin Inc. It includes 278 acres of wetlands around Bullfrog Creek.

Site plans call for 1,660 single-family homes and 600 townhomes; 80,000 square feet of mini-storage; and a 32,000-square-foot shopping center with a day care center.

The proposal is a revision of plans that were originally submitted in July but withdrawn before moving through the zoning process.

"This is a new and improved plan more suited to the market," said Ronald Weaver, an attorney for Beazer.

The original plan had half as many townhomes and 50,000 more square feet of commercial space. A zoning official is scheduled to consider the request April 26. (Petition 04-558)

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. All hearings before a zoning hearing master begin at 6 p.m. on Mondays or Tuesdays; commission meetings begin at 9 a.m. on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month. Both are televised on government access channels. Land use hearing officer hearings, which are not televised, begin at 9 a.m. every third Friday. Basic information about each petition is available online at hearing date. For information, call 276-2058.

[Last modified February 12, 2004, 12:52:02]

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