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Plans for Oak Hills golf resort hit pause
The developer delays a hearing to ease worries about new lots.
By DAN DEWITT, Times Staff Writer
Published August 14, 2007
BROOKSVILLE - The fairways at Oak Hills Golf Club have more green grass and fewer weeds since Spring Hill builder Jimmy DeMaria bought the course last year.
The sand in the traps is fresh, and maintenance workers seem to be watering more regularly.
"It's improved since this guy bought it," said Tom Hebert, who plays the course regularly and whose house overlooks the eighth green.
But he and several other neighbors don't like all the improvements planned by DeMaria, the owner of Blue Stone Real Estate Development and Construction Corp. of Spring Hill.
DeMaria announced plans to build a resort on the 215-acre property when he bought the course and clubhouse in October. On Monday a developer, JRZ Suspension Systems LLC of Spring Hill, presented those plans to the county Planning and Zoning Commission.
Hebert, like many of the crowd of neighbors who spoke about the project, did not oppose the idea of the resort, which will include a parking garage, a three-story clubhouse and 120 hotel rooms.
But they didn't like one part of the plan: creating 25 new residential lots on the fringes of the course.
Because of their objections, Alan Garman, president of Civil-Tech Consulting Engineers of Brooksville, who represented the developer, requested a two-month postponement. The commission granted the request and rescheduled the hearing for October.
That will give the developer a chance to meet with residents, some of whom complained that they were not adequately informed of the project, Garman said.
Hebert said after the meeting that neighbors worried that the new lots may reduce the course and require the digging of new retention ponds.
"The zoning commissioners were especially swayed by people with a view of the golf course that might lose that view as a result" of the development plans, Hebert said.
DeMaria said last year he needed to build a resort around the golf course to create a market for the course, which he planned to upgrade.
He also said he planned to tie it in with the water park and resort that he intends to build on U.S. 19 across from Weeki Wachee Springs, near the Best Western Resort Weeki Wachee, which he owns.
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In an unrelated action, the planning commission approved plans for a shopping center with 350,000 square feet of stores at the southwest corner of Spring Hill Drive and U.S. 41, near the Hernando County Airport.
One of the stores on the 35-acre site will be a big-box store, defined by the county as larger than 65,000 square feet.
Hardy Huntley, who sought permission for the project from the commission, did not indicate what kind of store will be built there. He previously sold land on U.S. 19 in Spring Hill for a Wal-Mart Supercenter and a JC Penney.