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Protests squash plan for rental complex

By DAN DEWITT
Published March 15, 2007


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BROOKSVILLE - George Massey, a resident of the Wellington at Seven Hills, listed the reasons he opposed building 120 apartments on a 10-acre parcel near his development.

Rental units might devalue the neighborhood, he said. Cars driving to and from the project would overload Quality Drive, the two-lane road connecting the complex to Mariner Boulevard.

It also would leave some residents of the Wellington with views of three-story, 40-foot-high buildings, Massey said outside the County Commission chambers on Wednesday.

"It just doesn't make common sense."

The commission agreed with Massey and dozens of other Wellington residents who attended the meeting. Commissioners voted to deny the rezoning that would have allowed the construction of the apartments, though the county Planning Department and the Planning and Zoning Commission had recommended approval.

The site of the proposed apartment complex is part of the Seven Hills development of regional impact. After the vote, Seven Hills president Lew Friedland said he would instead build a 150-unit assisted living facility on the site, as called for in the original DRI plans.

The developer planning the apartment complex, which would have been restricted to renters 55 and older, was American Realty Development LLC of Lake Mary.

In its letter to the county, American Realty said it has built thousands of apartments in Florida, Georgia and Texas in the last decade, including several with similar age restrictions.

Massey said he wished the commission had also denied an extension of Seven Hills' development rights that allowed it to build the assisted living facility. But he also called it the "lesser of two evils."

Also on Tuesday, the County Commission voted to approve a plan for a collection of six commercial lots on 8 acres along State Road 50 east of Interstate 75.

The company that owns the nearby Sunrise Plaza shopping center, Noble Properties of Geenacres, objected to the plan, said Peter Sidel, its corporate counsel and part owner.

The site plan for the new commercial development, partly owned by Brooksville real estate broker Gary Schraut, calls for the eventual construction of a collector road that would join SR 50 opposite Sherman Hills Boulevard.

When a full median cut is created for that intersection, the state would remove the cut leading to the existing shopping plaza and devalue the property, Sidel said.

Commissioner Diane Rowden suggested postponing the vote so the county could come up with a plan that protected Noble's rights. Her motion died, and the commission voted to approve Schraut's plan, with Rowden casting the only opposing vote.

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

[Last modified March 14, 2007, 23:21:29]


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