4 subdivisions could yield a new city

With all four approved, planners see as many as 10,000 homes rising near SR 50 and I-75. Some worry about traffic.

Published July 14, 2006

BROOKSVILLE - The County Commission opened the door Wednesday to creation of a new city near State Road 50 and Interstate 75, approving four subdivisions in the area with more than 2,100 houses and apartments.

The commission voted 3-2 for the rezonings that will allow the construction of the developments, the first significant residential projects approved for a 4,800-acre area that straddles the interstate south of SR 50.

The area is called a "planned development district" in the comprehensive plan that was long designated for future development.

County planners expect that more than 10,000 houses and apartments will eventually be built in the district, including the planned 4,800-home Sunrise development, which has not received final approval.

The Hickory Hill subdivision, where developers hope to build 1,749 houses and three golf courses, is just to the west of the district. The commission gave its initial backing last month for a comprehensive plan change to allow that project.

On Wednesday, two commissioners, Diane Rowden and Jeff Stabins, opposed the rezonings, saying the county had not yet adequately planned for this growth.

Hernando's comprehensive plan required the county Planning Department to create a master plan showing the future network of roads and other facilities needed to serve the new residents.

That has not been done, Stabins said, "and I don't think there's enough detail for a planned development district. ... We don't have enough information about where the roads are going and who will pay for them other than the taxpayer, and I'm extremely worried about that."

Rowden raised concerns that the combination of projects would drain and possibly pollute the aquifer.

"I'm just overwhelmed by the density," she said.

Commissioner Nancy Robinson said the Southwest Water Management District would protect the groundwater supply. Commissioner Chris Kingsley, who lives in Ridge Manor West, said residents in the area could benefit from the commercial development likely to follow these subdivisions.

Also, Don Lacey, vice president of Coastal Engineering and Associates Inc. of Brooksville, said the transportation plans were adequate.

Lacey, who represents the developers of all four projects, said they had agreed to make improvements to roads that serve them. This includes portions of Kettering, Old Trilby, Lockhart and Powerline roads.

"All of them will be involved in creating a network of two-lane roads," Lacey said. In the development agreements that will follow, they will commit to paying for regional transportation improvements, possibly including extensions of Old Trilby to the SR 50 interchange onto I-75.

The projects are:

* Cornerstone Communities Inc. plans 200 houses and 300 townhouses on 103 acres east of Lockhart, across from the end of Old Trilby and about 640 houses on 195 acres near Kettering and Powerline.* Metro Development Group LLC of Tampa plans 999 houses on two parcels on Kettering, formerly a dairy farm owned by Lee Pedone.

Dan DeWitt can be reached at dewitt@sptimes.com or 352754-6116.