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County gives go-ahead to new homes

Officials want Hillside Golf Club builders to control "all fugitive dust originating from the project site."

By JAMES THORNER

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 28, 2000


LAND O'LAKES -- Hillside Golf Club got the green light Thursday to start building its first 134 homes on Collier Parkway, but residents living near the new subdivision are already seeing red.

For the past few months, as earth movers have molded the former 380-acre orange grove into greens, traps and fairways, neighbors have complained about living in a dust bowl.

Storms of blowing dirt and sand have coated windows, furniture, siding and roofs. Pool bottoms look like river bottoms. Grit irritates eyes, noses and mouths.

"You clear 380 acres, and you create a Sahara Desert," said Joseph Mairorano, whose Lakes Padgett Estates East home abuts the Hillside property.

Mairorano was one of about 10 neighbors who attended Thursday's meeting of the Pasco County Development Review Committee.

The committee, made up of the county's top administrators, unanimously approved construction of 134 homes in the first phase of development, which after seven years could hold as many as 950 homes. Construction of the 18-hole golf course began around Christmas.

But even as the committee gave its assent, it urged builders to control "all fugitive dust originating from the project site." Officials also banned construction traffic from 20 Mile Level Road.

But Alex Deeb, whose construction company is laying water lines in the subdivision, said suppressing dust may be an impossible mission.

Blaming dry weather, Deeb said even the sprinkler trucks running 12 hours a day, seven days a week can't tackle the problem.

"We don't take it lightly," Deeb told the committee. "But we've had no rain."

Residents argued that developers exacerbated erosion by clear cutting the entire orange grove, even though Hillside's first phase will occupy only 39 acres north of the Land O'Lakes Recreation Complex.

But Deeb said developers needed to clear the property to make room for the golf course, whose fairways and greens will cross most of the subdivision.

He said the dust problems should end as builders seed the entire property with grass and train sprinklers on the golf course.

As for other complaints that the new subdivision will flood drainage ditches separating it from Lake Padgett Estates East, Deeb said retention ponds will prevent that from happening.

"There's no way that there's any water that's going to go into that ditch," Deeb said. "I don't care if a hurricane hits."

After clearing Hillside, the development review committee approved construction of more than 1,000 homes in the eastern half of Pasco, most representing later phases of established subdivisions.

Lexington Oaks, Pulte Home Corp.'s golf course community a mile west of Interstate 75 on State Road 54, won approval to build 776 homes in phase two of the development.

Likewise for Lake Jovita Golf and Country Club in Saint Leo, which got the nod to start building 171 homes in phase two.

The committee also approved 129 town homes in Meadow Pointe, the huge neighborhood east of Bruce B. Downs Boulevard, and 36 houses in Bell Harbor, a yet-to-be-built subdivision south of Hale Road in Land O'Lakes.

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