tampabay.com

Patience is coming in handy

Complications keep Habitat for Humanity from moving to its new location.

By BETH GRAY
Published May 30, 2007


BROOKSVILLE - Moving from one home to another is time-consuming in any situation. When two government entities, zoning issues and a seller are involved, it takes even longer.

That's what Habitat for Humanity of Hernando County has learned since it started looking to move in January.

The thrift store and administrative offices remain along S Broad Street near the Airport Industrial Park. Habitat's preconstruction work site has moved to a former manufacturing site on Oliver Street behind the fairgrounds. The other units aim to follow.

The county zoning department notified Habitat in January that its thrift store was out of zoning compliance because it is a commercial enterprise operating in an area zoned for industrial use. The county initially gave Habitat six weeks to move.

But compassion for the nonprofit builder of homes for low-income families prevailed. "We can stay as long as we're working on a move," Habitat executive director Cliff Fouts said recently.

Other complications have arisen concerning the Oliver Street site. The county owns the land on which the building sits, but the building is owned by a private individual. And the property is within the Brooksville city limits.

"So, the county had to give permission to the owner of the building to request a zoning change" from manufacturing to industrial, which could be accomplished in 60 days. "If that occurs, the City Council would have to grant a special exception for the thrift store," Fouts explained.

Habitat is under a temporary lease for the building, where volunteers are working on lawn sheds to place on home sites.

Building renovations at Oliver Street, pegged at $100,000 to accommodate the store and offices, are on hold until the zoning issues are resolved, Fouts said. "We're waiting. We're very patient."

Meanwhile, because the thrift store has been allowed to stay open, Habitat is maintaining a cash influx of about $5,000 a month.

There may come a time when the thrift store will close for the relocation. "Building (homes) is the mission and priority" Fouts emphasized.

Habitat volunteers finished and dedicated a home in Tangerine Estates off California Avenue recently. Another house in that area is about one-third finished, with completion expected in September.

The organization wants to buy three adjacent lots for $16,200 and build two three-bedroom homes.

Three families are on the waiting list to buy the homes at cost with no interest. Another eight families are in the selection process.

Said Fouts: "I'd like to have the money (to build) five right now." Each project costs about $50,000, depending on how much of the material is donated.

Facing renovation expenses for the move, Fouts said in January he didn't know a time line for the start of homes after the one under construction is finished. He said last week that no substantial money has come in to the organization since January.

Beth Gray can be contacted at graybethn@earthlink.net.

Fast Facts:

To contribute

To donate to Habitat for Humanity of Hernando County, send tax-deductible gifts to: P.O. Box 15389, Brooksville, FL 34604, or contribute online at www.habitathernando.org. For information, call 754-1159.