tampabay.com

Scarpo plan a go; King's delayed

Squabbles over road improvements tie these to the Cypress Creek Town Center project.

By CHUIN-WEI YAP
Published March 16, 2007


NEW PORT RICHEY - Two similar neighboring development proposals went before the county's top staff planners Thursday, but only one walked out with a green light.

The developers of the "Scarpo" proposal, for 488 apartments on 30 acres on Cypress Creek Road, got their approval.

Henry "Hank" King, who wants 548 apartments on 42 acres to Scarpo's south, got his hearing delayed to April 12 despite his lawyer's objections.

But it's not a simple case of Scarpo 1, King 0.

Even though the overall project got the nod, Scarpo must still come back to the Development Review Committee for its signoff on road improvements the county wants.

"This has not been an easy project," said Scarpo's attorney, Jerry Figurski. "It would have been easy if cooperation had ruled the day."

The focus of the controversy is on the southern end of Cypress Creek Road, where it joins County Line Road.

That area sits on King's property, and King does not want to let the Scarpos have the right of way to carry out the road improvements.

Complaining that the county wanted him to pay about $3-million more for road improvements than it had demanded of the Scarpo project, King's lawyers had hinted he might sue the county for unfair treatment.

"It's an impasse," said Clarke Hobby, King's attorney. "The county's not been flexible."

King also has balked at giving up right of way to let Cypress Creek Town Center, a neighboring proposed mall, extend a road through his property.

The county wants King to pay more because it is, overall, a larger project than the Scarpo proposal.

King's proposal begins with 548 apartments on 42 acres but would eventually expand to include 1-million square feet of commercial and industrial space. King Ranch covers more than 300 acres.

But Hobby said he still hopes to work things out with the county.

The Scarpo developers now propose putting in a guard rail instead of making the road improvements to the southern end of Cypress Creek Road. They think this is a safe alternative to eliminating trees and moving street lights there.

But, before approving it, County Administrator John Gallagher wants his own engineers and external consultants to examine the idea.

Hobby warned that the guard rail still would sit on King property and would present safety concerns.

Chuin-Wei Yap covers growth and development in Pasco County. He can be reached at 813909-4613 or cyap@sptimes.com.