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Townhouse zoning approved despite criticism

By DAN DEWITT
Published April 12, 2007


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BROOKSVILLE -A developer plans to go ahead with plans to build 241 townhouses near a popular trailhead of the Withlacoochee State Trail after the County Commission approved a rezoning to allow the development Wednesday.

"I think it's going to be a great project for the county," said Nick Nicholson, a Brooksville engineer who helped design the development, on Croom-Rital Road just north of State Road 50.

The townhouses, which developer Joseph Selway of Brooksville plans to sell for as little as $150,000, will provide housing for working families, Nicholson said.

Commissioner Diane Rowden, who cast the only vote against the rezoning, didn't agree.

"Work force housing is the big buzzword now," she said after the meeting. "They can't use the word affordable housing because who, if they are making $30,000 per year, can afford a $150,000 mortgage?"

The development will also draw from the county's falling supply of groundwater, she said: "This is one more straw in the ground."

But Nicholson said several steps have been taken to reduce the amount of water the development will consume. Half of the 4 acres of open space will be planted with native plants that need less water to maintain.

Also, he said, the 50-foot wide buffer along Croom-Rital will be left natural and not require any irrigation.

Some regular trail users objected to the location of such dense development on a 25-acre parcel across from one of the county's centers of outdoor recreation.

"Hernando County has done a really good job of marketing ecotourism and people come from all over the state to use that trail," Joe Murphy, conservation chairman of Hernando Audubon, said last month.

But Nicholson and Selway have said the land is well-suited for a multifamily project. It is designated for residential use in the county comprehensive plan. It is also next to land zoned for commercial use and across SR 50 from a 4,800-acre planned development district that will include a mix of residential, industrial and commercial property.

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

[Last modified April 11, 2007, 23:46:17]


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