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Wal-Mart eyeing Spring Hill?
Papers faxed to the county look like plans for County Line Road.
By DAN DEWITT
Published July 19, 2007
BROOKSVILLE - Last month, Commissioner Diane Rowden said she suspected a developer planned to build a Wal-Mart Supercenter at County Line Road and Mariner Boulevard.
She might be right, according to documents sent Tuesday to the county Development Department.
The cover sheet of a set of plans faxed to the county from the Tampa office of the engineering firm Nodarse & Associates lists the project as "Wal-Mart Spring Hill" and the location as "County Line Road & Mariner Boulevard."
Though the plans were not specifically identified, County Development director Grant Tolbert said, "This is definitely a layout for a Wal-Mart."
Company spokeswoman Quenta Vettel did not return telephone calls Wednesday to comment on Wal-Mart's plans.
Among the questions being raised are whether this site is being prepared for an additional Supercenter, which would be the fifth in Hernando County, or whether this is viewed by the company as an alternative location for the controversial store proposed for Barclay Avenue.
One of the property owners, Frank DoGaniero of Clearwater, could not be reached for comment. James Sandifer of Nodarse declined to speak about his company's work on the site.
His company sent the layout to Tolbert's department only because a county landscape inspector recently saw two workers clearing brush on the 20-acre parcel without a permit.
They explained that they had merely cut a path so they could bring in equipment to take soil samples on the site. After the county inspector, Chris Linsbeck, asked for more documentation, Nodarse sent the county the plan and cover sheet.
In June, the County Commission denied a plan to build a gas station on a two-acre portion of the property. Members said they needed to see how it would fit in with plans for the remaining 18-acres, which Rowden noted would be suited for a Wal-Mart.
A month earlier, the commission voted down plans to build a Supercenter on Barclay after neighbors complained that it would draw heavy traffic into a mostly residential area.
Wal-Mart has appealed that decision, saying the county had granted the right to build a store on the property, which was part of the massive Holland Springs development approved in 1983.
Some of the same rules apply to the County Line site, said Paul Wieczorek, who handles comprehensive plan issues for the county. The land, zoned for commercial use, is part of the Seven Hills development of regional impact, approved in the late 1980s.
Because the county's comprehensive plan was not yet in place, the property is exempt from rules requiring adequate roads be in place to serve new development, Wieczorek said.
That's especially bad news on County Line, Rowden said, because the two-lane highway is one of the most overburdened in the county.
"It's failing," she said. "Who's going to be left holding the bag? The taxpayers and the county commissioners."