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Lake Hutto rezoning decision on horizon

The developer of the 3,500-home community wants the zoning changed to planned development. A county land use officer recommends against it.

By ANDREW MEACHAM
Published February 17, 2006


Decision day looms on Tuesday for Lake Hutto, a 3,500-home development that could change eastern Hillsborough County by its size alone.

Houses along with villas, duplexes and condominiums, would fill 1,127 acres in three parcels north of FishHawk Boulevard and east of Boyette Road. The developer is seeking a rezoning from agricultural and residential uses to a planned development.

In a report released Monday, the county's land use hearing officer recommended against the project, in part because of overcrowded roads and schools, and because plans lacked sufficient detail.

Another 1,100 acres of the property have been sold to the county's Environmental Lands Acquisition and Protection Program and would bring walking trails open to the public. The development by Pulte Homes will include 180,000 square feet of office space and another 180,000 square feet of retail.

Lake Hutto is undergoing a review by more than a dozen government agencies, a process reserved for large, regional projects.

At a zoning hearing in January, residents raised concerns about school overcrowding and traffic. The plan calls for an elementary school and middle school site on 6 acres to accommodate 2,490 students brought by Lake Hutto. Nearby, there would be a 26-acre public park.

Attorney Rhea Law, representing Pulte Homes, told the hearing officer in January that the developer will finance a new wing onto Newsome High School capable of holding 600 more students.

The developer agreed to spend more than $60-million to widen a 5-mile stretch of FishHawk Boulevard from Bell Shoals Road to Lithia-Pinecrest Road, and to widen Bell Shoals Road from FishHawk Boulevard to Bloomingdale Avenue.

Land use hearing officer Martin Smith rejected several key elements of the plan, especially a Pulte Homes' proposal to mix the permitted densities, or units allowed per acre. Instead of sticking to one county land use category for all of Lake Hutto, the developer wants to allow higher concentrations in the 709-acre southern parcel, but limit the northeast and northwest parcels to less than three units per acre.

Smith wrote that all three parcels serve the same purpose and do not qualify for separate units-per-acre categories.

The case goes to the County Commission at 6 p.m. on Tuesday at the County Center, 601 E Kennedy Blvd., Tampa.

Andrew Meacham can be reached at 661-2431 or ameacham@sptimes.com

[Last modified February 16, 2006, 15:19:08]


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