tampabay.com

Where Spring Hill is depends on whom you ask

By MICHAEL KRUSE
Published May 2, 2007


Shawna Fleming was tending the bar at the Carrabba's on State Road 50 one night last month when she was asked to answer an existential question:

Where are we?

Spring Hill?

Or Brooksville?

"This is considered Brooksville, " she said. "But Spring Hill's not far."

Where?

"Across the street, " she said.

This should be a simple question. It is not.

In 1967, when Spring Hill first opened, it was the more than 32, 000 lots on roughly 15, 000 acres that made up the Mackle brothers' "master-planned" community. After 40 years of growth, though, the borders are ... wishy-washy. Folks here in Hernando County seem to be able to agree on what Spring Hill is not - it's not Brooksville - but they are unable to settle on what exactly it actually is.

Official definitions come from different sources - Spring Hill Fire Rescue, the Hernando County Planning Department, the United States Postal Service, the census people - but the sum total of those is inconclusive at best. What they call Spring Hill ranges from SR 50 to the north, County Line Road to the south, U.S. 19 to the west and Barclay Avenue, Anderson Snow Road, the Suncoast Parkway, California Street and U.S. 41 to the east. It even jumps a county line.

"It's a very good question, " said John Sweeney, a county School Board member and the owner of the Wine Toad, which is in the new strip center at the corner of Barclay and Powell Road, which may or may not be in Spring Hill.

"Where is Spring Hill?"

"If you ask 10 people, " the county Planning Department's David Miles said, "you'll probably get 10 different answers."

Okay. Here it goes.

1. "I loosely call it the area in between 41, 50, 19 and County Line Road. I mean, in my mind, that's what it is, but I don't know if that's correct or not."

Mike McHugh, director of Hernando's Office of Business Development

2. "Fifty, 19, County Line Road, and I would say it used to end at Godfrey, the last street before you get to Barclay."

Carol Thomas, who's lived in Spring Hill since '74

3. "I think it ends at 19. Well, actually, we still claim it as Spring Hill till you get out to Hernando Beach - I guess."

Dave Russell Sr., a former county commissioner who is the father of current Commissioner Dave Russell Jr.

4. "It would be from County Line Road to 19 to 50 to ... I would say ... I would take it down as far as Barclay in front of Silverthorn. But if you cross 50, I look at that as Brooksville - but that's just me."

James Yant, a State Farm Insurance agent who's been here since '76

5. "It starts at County Line Road. It ends at 50. And it goes from 19 over to Barclay and the Suncoast Parkway."

Walter Dry, who moved from New Jersey 20 years ago

6. "The eastern boundary is pretty much California Street. It's just someone's arbitrary call, truthfully."

Miles, from the Planning Department

7. "I believe it starts at 50 and ends at County Line Road. It starts at 19 and ends at maybe California Street. That's part of Spring Hill, although they call it Brooksville."

Sandy D'Amato, who's been cutting hair here since '82

8. "I guess probably Spring Hill starts at County Line Road and goes to 50. I guess Hernando Beach is probably part of Spring Hill. It probably starts from the gulf and goes all the way to 41. Probably."

Dana Hurst, who's been working on cars at Harold's auto shop - better known as the dinosaur out on 19 - for more than 30 years

9. "It does get confusing. Spring Hill, generically, is the west end of the county."

Connell McGeehan, one of the sons of early Spring Hill Realtor Hugh McGeehan

10. "Nobody knows. Nobody has any idea anymore. I would say, right now, in 2007, today, this week, Spring Hill is what's west of the parkway. Spring Hill is the new area. Whatever's new. That's Spring Hill."

Vince Vanni, in local public relations

Except for the part that's old.

Which gets to the original subdivision. It starts at the intersection of 19 and Spring Hill Drive and heads east. It includes all of Deltona and Mariner boulevards. It does not reach Barclay or Anderson Snow. It does not cross County Line. It does not include Timber Pines, Seven Hills or Silverthorn.

That's the simplest definition. But its time has come and gone.

The fire district, meanwhile, goes up 19 to Timber Pines, and it touches 50 west of Barclay in more spots than the original subdivision does - but not all spots.

City-data.com says Spring Hill has ZIP codes 34606, 34607 and 34608 - but not 34609, which is the fastest-growing area in the Spring Hill census designated place.

About that census designated place: It hugs 19 and actually crosses 19. Ditto for 50. It also crosses County Line, and it stretches east, too, closer to 41 than any other definition of Spring Hill.

Those are the official answers.

They only raise more questions.

Take all the stores and restaurants on the north side of the intersection of Mariner and 50. It is the commercial hub of the whole county. They were built, and built there, specifically because of the development of Spring Hill - and yet, according to their postal addresses, they are in Brooksville.

Sears? Brooksville.

Ruby Tuesday? Brooksville.

Belk? Brooksville.

The Carrabba's where Shawna Fleming tends bar? She's right. Brooksville.

At least for now.

Michael Kruse can be reached at mkruse@sptimes.com or 352 848-1434.