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County seeks compromise on Meadow Pointe parks

Hearing a developer's appeal, commissioners vote 3-2 to send the issue back to a committee for a solution.

By BRIDGET HALL GRUMET
Published February 26, 2004

WESLEY CHAPEL - The battle over pocket parks in Meadow Pointe is entering Round 3.

After deadlocking Tuesday night on the parks requirements for the third and fourth phases of Meadow Pointe, also known as Wesley Chapel Lakes, the County Commission kicked the dispute back to a committee in the hopes of reaching a compromise.

A county ordinance requires developers to create a 1-acre park for every 100 homes they build. But Wesley Chapel Lakes was designed before the county passed that ordinance, and carving out the extra 29 acres for parks would take away the space for 150 to 200 homes, developer attorney Tim Johnson told the commission.

Johnson repeated the argument he made to the county's Development Review Committee last October: The developers already have promised 47 acres for a regional park, 6.5 acres for a bike trail, 64 acres for a nature preserve and 10 acres for two clubhouses with adjoining swimming pools and basketball courts.

At that time, the Development Review Committee refused to give Meadow Pointe a break from the 1-acre park requirement. Hearing the issue on appeal Tuesday night, the County Commission voted 3-2 to send the issue back to the committee.

"We don't want to spoil the integrity of the neighborhood parks" requirement, Commissioner Ann Hildebrand said.

But, Commissioner Steve Simon added, "Credit should be given for what was done."

Commissioners agreed the 10 acres for the clubhouses should count toward the parks requirement. But Hildebrand and Simon said the developer should also get credit for the bike trails. Commissioners Pat Mulieri and Ted Schrader disagreed.

"These people deserve to have these (park) areas," said Mulieri, who questioned whether the bike trails would be displaced by future road widening projects.

And there's another variable. The developer set aside 24 acres for the county's tennis stadium, but commissioners decided last year to go with a different site closer to Saddlebrook. The county could return that land to the Meadow Pointe developer, offsetting most of the acreage lost to pocket parks.

"Let's not hold on to something we're not interested in," Commission Chairman Peter Altman said.

- Bridget Hall Grumet covers Pasco County government. She can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6244 or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6244. Her e-mail address is bhall@sptimes.com

[Last modified February 26, 2004, 01:31:33]


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