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Oak Hills Golf Club resort winning some vital support
After changes to the proposed plan, it gets backing from officials and many neighbors.
By DAN DeWITT, Times Staff Writer
Published November 14, 2007
BROOKSVILLE - Planning Commissioner Robert Widmar's comments about plans for a resort at Oak Hills Golf Club echoed the support the project has received from most nearby residents:
"When you first came here, I told you that you were not ready for prime time," Widmar said to a representative of the resort's developer, Blue Stone Real Estate Development and Construction Corp. of Spring Hill. "I'm not ready to say you're a 10, but you're an eight or nine."
He and two other members of the county's Planning and Zoning Commission voted to recommend a rezoning for the project Tuesday, the third time it has come before the commission. Commissioners Anthony Palmieri and Anna Liisa Covell voted against the rezoning, which still needs approval of the County Commission.
James DeMaria, Blue Stone's owner, announced plans to build a resort hotel, rental villas and single-family lots on the 215-acre golf course property in October 2006.
At the previous planning commission meetings, many neighbors objected, saying the project would bring traffic and noise to their neighborhood. They worried that DeMaria's plans to fill in drainage retention ponds might flood the neighborhood and that his new houses would block the fairway views of some current homeowners.
Alan Garman, the Brooksville engineer who represented Blue Stone, addressed the last concern by cutting the number of lots from 25 to 18. Estimating that the lots would be sold for about $100,000, Garman said, "We think DeMaria has been more than generous with the neighbors. He's given up at least $700,000."
Palmieri, though, suggested he give up four more.
"You are really putting these houses into the middle of the golf course," he said.
Garman responded by saying that the neighbors closest to the new lots had no objection to the revised layout.
Covell voted against the plan because the developer had not conducted a traffic survey or a geological study for the property, though sinkholes have been found on nearby lots. Garman said that information was not due until later in the development process.
Garman also redesigned the project so the villas will be more than 100 feet from the nearest homeowner. One of those homeowners, Josephine Dziarkowski, said that was still not far enough away because the classified work she does with the federal government includes conference calls that require silence.
"I cannot be disturbed by any tourists," she said.
But she was in the minority, according to another neighbor, Jane Dalton.
"We're definitely for it," Dalton said.
She figured the resort would be an asset to the neighborhood, partly because of the improvements she has already seen in the golf course.
"That course was a disaster when Mr. (Raymond) Floyd owned it," she said, "and this guy has really put some money in it."
The project also has received the support of the Oak Hills homeowners association.
In other business, the planning commission:
- Denied a plan to allow a septic company's spray field on 39 acres south of Centralia Road after the company's owner failed to appear at the meeting.
- Unanimously approved a landscape ordinance that will reduce the amount of high-water-use turf grass in residential yards from 75 percent to 50 percent.
- Unanimously approved the rezoning needed for the Hickory Hill development near Spring Lake, which will include three golf courses and 1,749 houses. The County Commission previously approved a change in the county's comprehensive plan to allow the project.