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Rezoning for VillaRosa schools approved


© St. Petersburg Times, published March 19, 2000

LUTZ -- When the school system got its rezoning for two schools outside VillaRosa, the neighbors of the future schools got a tongue-lashing.

The rezoning was for an elementary and a middle school on Lutz-Lake Fern Road, adjacent to VillaRosa. The rebuke was for neighbors' vehement objections to a gate that would let children walk or ride bicycles through a private VillaRosa neighborhood to the back of the middle school campus. Without that short cut, the schools' only access will be via Lutz-Lake Fern and a sidewalk beside it.

"Folks, these are the same people who will tell us to do something on Lutz-Lake Fern Road," County Commissioner Ronda Storms complained in Tuesday's meeting. "That is selfish.

"These are your neighbors' children that are going to ride their bikes and walk to school."

Added Commissioner Chris Hart, "I think it is absolutely unconscionable to push those children out onto Lutz-Lake Fern Road."

The criticism was aimed at residents of VillaRosa's exclusive Heritage neighborhood, where the 30 homes built so far are gated off from the rest of VillaRosa. Heritage residents own and maintain their streets.

They're paying for privacy, said Georgianne Ratliff, the school system planning consultant who negotiated with the residents. "These folks have a right, and they chose to live in a community where they pay to maintain the roads."

Only Storms voted against the rezoning. But commissioners agreed to a proposal by Hart that if Heritage ever asks the county to take over its streets, the residents will have to pay to install the entrance gate to the middle school.

* * *

CITRUS PARK -- The animals at Wildlife on Easy Street might get a new neighbor: a 140-foot cellular telephone tower.

Nextel Communications wants to build the tower on the eastern part of the refuge, owned by Carol Lewis. It is just west of Veterans Expressway and south of Easy Street.

Lewis keeps roughly 140 exotic cats and other animals at her facility. Nextel says in a petition for a special-use permit that it usually puts its communications towers in the same place, but it has no other towers in the area to build next to. (Petition SU 00-0585)

The following petitions were approved last week by the County Commission:

KEYSTONE -- Taylor Woodrow Communities won the rezoning needed to build nearly 800 homes on 452 acres along Race Track Road, just west of Nine Eagles Drive.

The development is scheduled to be completed by 2003. It will feature roughly 640 single-family homes and 150 townhomes on seven agricultural parcels.

Some Keystone residents have opposed the project, saying it will bring too much traffic and density to a rural part of the county. But Keystone Civic Association did not object after its president met with the developer and was assured that the project wouldn't include commercial uses. (Petition RZ 00-0245)

* * *

LUTZ -- Centex Homes can move ahead on a 200-unit "neo-traditional" subdivision on the northeast corner of Van Dyke Road and Veterans Expressway. (Petition RZ 00-0247)

* * *

TOWN 'N COUNTRY -- Centex also won approval for plans to build 94 townhomes on 8.6 acres at the northwest corner of Waters Avenue and Wilsky Boulevard. The project is similar to Trafalgar Square, at Mullis City Road and Linebaugh Avenue. (Petition RZ 00-0246)

-- Staff writer Bill Coats contributed to this report.

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