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Business park has tentative backing

Planning board members like the idea of a center next to the Withlacoochee State Forest, but want more facts.

By BRIDGET HALL GRUMET

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 16, 2001


LECANTO -- Despite the objections of county staff, members of the Planning and Development Review Board said they liked what they heard about a proposed business park next to the Withlacoochee State Forest.

But they postponed voting on the project Thursday because they want more details about what the site on State Road 44, about a half-mile east of County Road 491, will look like once it is developed.

"We're hearing all these wonderful things about what it's going to be, but we have no assurance it won't be just a great big strip mall," planning board chairman Raymond Hughes said.

A new hearing date has not yet been scheduled. Once the planning board makes its recommendation, the proposal will go before the County Commission for two more hearings and a final vote.

Landowners James Morton, Joseph Piscopio and Gerhard Ott have asked the county to nearly double the amount of commercially zoned space on the 46-acre property, creating room for a business park on the front half.

As the property sits now, 11.9 acres of commercial land forms a 300-foot-wide band along SR 44 that is just deep enough to accommodate a strip mall.

The request is to widen the commercial band by rezoning between 6.9 and 9.4 acres of residential land to the south.

County environmental planner Lou Phemister urged the board to deny the rezoning request. He said a large commercial development would not fit well with the small neighborhood to the west or the state forest to the east.

But planning board members said because the zoning allows the front part of the property to be commercially developed at some point, the county should give the developer the space to create an attractive cluster of offices and shops instead of another strip mall.

In other planning board news:

Plans for cookie shed crumble

The board denied a request by Karen Pringle, the local distributor of Famous Amos cookies, to accept truckloads of the cookies each week and store them in a 500-square-foot shed by her Hernando home.

A semitrailer truck delivers the cookies to Pringle's home every Saturday morning, usually between 2 and 4 a.m. Pringle then loads the munchies into a smaller truck and delivers them to grocery stores and food markets.

If she were not allowed to use her shed, Pringle said, "It would put a hardship on my family because I would have to spend another $200 a month to rent a storage building somewhere else."

County planner Cynthia Jones said some neighbors were concerned that the heavy trucks will tear up N Carolwood Point, a private limerock road that each resident pays to maintain.

Planning board members said they did not want to set a precedent allowing heavy trucks to regularly use a neighborhood street.

Board supports Key site

The board recommended approval of a request by the Key Training Center to change the zoning for 2 acres at State Road 44 and Commerce Terrace from professional offices to general commercial.

Jack White, construction manager for the Key Training Center, said the group has no immediate plans for the vacant site, but someday may want to build a larger thrift store on that corner, just east of its current store in Lecanto. Without the zoning change, any new store would be less than 3,000 square feet.

The proposal will go before the County Commission for two more hearings and a final vote.

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