Panel rejects development
The Planning and Zoning Commission votes against a project in Hernando Beach. The builder can resubmit plans or appeal to the County Commission.
By ASJYLYN LODER
Published October 11, 2005
BROOKSVILLE - The county Planning and Zoning Commission on Monday narrowly voted against a new development in Hernando Beach.
Cliff Manuel, president of Coastal Engineering, proposed 11 new lots on 20 acres his family owns in Hernando Beach. More than 20 area residents turned out to voice their opposition, saying the development is in environmentally sensitive coastal marshes and will increase pollution and the risk of flooding in their community.
The commission voted 3-2 against conditional approval for Manuel LLC's Eagle Point development, going against recommendations made by the county's staff. Bob DeWitt and Anna Liisa Covell voted for conditional approval, with Anthony Palmieri, Al Sevier and Mary Preston voting against.
Covell said the application was consistent with the zoning.
"Our hands are tied here," Covell said.
Palmieri said he was not convinced the development would not harm wetlands and nearby residents.
Sevier said he worried about placing new residents in harm's way if a hurricane threatened the county's coast.
"It's just a personal feeling that we shouldn't be putting people in jeopardy," he said.
Donald Lacey, director of planning for Coastal Engineering, told commissioners the land had long been zoned for housing and that whether neighbors wanted to see new housing built was immaterial.
"That decision was made some time ago," Lacey said.
After the vote, Lacey said he was unsure of his options.
"If there's an appeal process, that's one option. The other is to resubmit a new conditional plat application. The courts are also an option," Lacey said.
Opponents of the project applauded the commission's vote.
"I think it's in the best interest of the community," said Michael Jordan, president of the Hernando Beach Property Owners Association.
Ron Basso, who lives within sight of the proposed development, conceded that most of Hernando Beach, including his house, would not have been possible under today's rules.
However, he said, "We have the opportunity not to follow that same direction. We can preserve the environment rather than destroy it."
Larry Jennings, director of the county's planning department, said residents' concerns could have been more fully addressed after conditional approval. Final approval would have required state and local agencies to define the wetlands border and determine where the development ends and the gulf begins.
The proposed project might change substantially, depending on where those lines were drawn, Jennings said.
"You more precisely define the issues as you move forward," said Jennings, who had recommended that the board grant conditional approval.
Jennings said the developer could appeal the decision to the County Commission or choose to reapply to the Planning and Zoning Commission.
Eagle Point is the second of two coastal developments planned by Coastal Engineering. The first, Insteada, received conditional approval in late September. The 21-acre development includes six parcels that will fan out from Eagle Nest into the marshland, much of which is usually covered during high tide.
--Asjylyn Loder can be reached at 352 754-6127 or firstname.lastname@example.org
[Last modified October 11, 2005, 01:57:17]
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