City annexes 46-acre tract for new development
By MICHAEL SANDLER
© St. Petersburg Times, published March 25, 2001
HERITAGE ISLES -- It took the City of Tampa two years to figure out what to do about Guy Spicola's 46 acres of land, a pesky piece of property blocking a major annexation in New Tampa.
Once they reached an agreement with him, it took a few months more to seal the deal.
On Thursday, City Council voted 6-0 to annex the parcel officially inside city limits. It was the second time in four months the issue had come before City Council. In December, the council approved an annexation agreement between the city and U.S. Home Corp.
In most cases, public hearings for the annexation agreement and the annexation ordinance are held simultaneously. However U.S. Home wanted a guarantee that the property would be annexed before the company would lay out the $1.6-million price.
"We wanted to ensure that the annexation agreement was approved by the city before we closed on the property," said Mike Lawson, a developer with U.S. Home and chairman of the Heritage Isles community development district. Heritage Isles surrounded the property on three sides, making it necessary to annex in order to avoid having an island of unincorporated county land.
Lawson said the developer has yet to decide what to do with the former Spicola property. When it does, it must submit plans and go before city council again for a rezoning.
"It's contiguous within Heritage Isles, but we haven't done any design plans yet," Lawson said.
Thursday's annexation opened the door for the annexation of the K-Bar Ranch, a 2,500-acre property that lies immediately to the north and arguably has the most potential in New Tampa for development. The K-Bar property extends all the way to County Line Road and runs west of Morris Bridge Road.
The city needed the Spicola property in order to be able to annex K-Bar.
Spicola, a former Hillsborough chief judge, sent the county a proposal in early 1999, not long after the city annexed Heritage Isles next to his property. He offered to sell the county his land, a move that would have blocked further annexation.
But county officials found his asking price of $1.6-million too high, and the sale lingered until December 2000.
Though no formal plans for K-Bar have been submitted, proposals in city files suggest the area could one day be developed for as many as 3,600 homes.
Any development plans will be limited for a few years. With most of the K-Bar property now consisting of rural pasture, the city needs time to improve infrastructure, particularly roads and traffic signals.
K-Bar's annexation agreement was expected to go before City Council early this year, but was delayed several times. City attorneys and Joel Tew, a Clearwater attorney representing K-Bar, have been negotiating changes in the agreement.
- Michael Sandler can be reached at (813) 226-3472 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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