Plan would sink $30M into roads

Sunrise offers to cooperate with other developers on a master plan.

Published May 8, 2007

BROOKSVILLE - The Sunrise development presented plans to the county Monday to build roads, utilities and other services not only for the 4, 800-home project, but a surrounding area that may eventually hold 11, 000 residences.

The centerpiece of the proposal is $30-million worth of road improvements, including building a new off-ramp on Interstate 75, widening a stretch of State Road 50 and building a network of collector roads.

Representatives for Sunrise, which will include a golf course, shopping centers and 75 hotel rooms, presented the plan at a County Commission workshop as part of its application as a development of regional impact. The county will decide July 24 whether to approve Sunrise as a DRI.

Though the plans are not complete, a Sunrise representative said it had satisfied several of the county's demands, including the most crucial one: the County Commission previously requested that Sunrise cooperate with other developers to create a master plan for the 4, 800-acre planned development district that straddles the interstate south of SR 50.

"This is a collaborative effort, " said Joel Tew, a Clearwater lawyer who represents Sunrise. He also spoke for two other development companies, Metro Development Group and Cornerstone Communities, which each plan to develop two projects in the district.

When this district was created 18 years ago, the county comprehensive plan required that it have a master plan. The road projects are part of this master plan, Tew said, adding that the developers had come up with an innovate method to pay for the roads.

Metro, Cornerstone and Sunrise, whose current owners include Brooksville banker Jim Kimbrough and retired mining engineer Tommy Bronson, will pay half the amount.

"We believe that we can build at least $15-million of the roads as these very first projects go under development, " Tew said.

Developers will pay the other half of the improvements through what Tew called "enhanced impact fees." That would mean that future developers would be required to pay not only transportation impact fees for each building in the district, but an additional surcharge.

This method has not been tried before in Hernando County, said planning director Ron Pianta, and county planners would have to study the details before they could recommend it.

He also did not know whether the three developers, who together plan to build about 7, 000 residential units, would be responsible for more than half of the road improvements.

Tew also said the developers would contribute land needed to widen the roads to serve the district. He repeated the offer the three developers have also presented to the Hernando County School Board, to donate about 75 acres for two school sites.

Dan DeWitt can be reached at dewitt@sptimes.com or (352) 754-6116.