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Plenty of opposition expected at hearings for two big projects

By BILL COATS and EVE LEBERSON

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 13, 2001


LUTZ -- Two of Lutz's most significant rezonings in years are headed for public hearings before zoning judges this week, and they may draw participants by the busload.

Monday night, the topic will be a 360,000-square-foot medical complex proposed by St. Joseph's Baptist Health Care at Van Dyke Road and Calusa Trace Boulevard. Tuesday night, it will be 129 pricey homes proposed off Newberger Road.

A key controversy in both projects is whether motorists will be able to use backdoor access routes through a subdivision. Both proposals have been delayed by complications and controversy, the medical center by more than four months. But planners have endorsed both.

Last week, neighbors gathered on Pasco County's Sonoma Lane, immediately north of the Newberger site, in hopes of rallying opposition to a connection at Sonoma's current dead end. If the Newberger subdivision were connected, Sonoma would become the new subdivision's quickest route to shopping centers at Collier Parkway and State Road 54.

Leaders in Calusa Trace, meanwhile, were sounding an alarm against the prospect of St. Joseph's traffic on Calusa Trace Boulevard. That cut-through would avoid traffic lights, but take vehicles past Schwarzkopf Elementary School and a public park.

Gerry Reno, president of the Calusa Trace Master Association, believes St. Joseph's may need the Calusa Trace option because routing its full traffic onto Van Dyke will send the road over its capacity, and theoretically require the county to block construction.

He's rallying neighbors to attend Monday's hearing. "We've got buses coming to carry people down."

(St. Joseph's petition 00-1410. Newberger Road petition 01-412)

* * *

TAMPA PALMS: Tampa Brickyard filed a petition last week asking for county permission to serve alcohol at its planned 4,500-square-foot restaurant in the Oak Ramble Plaza now under construction on Bruce B. Downs Boulevard. The restaurant, which plans to operate a full service bar, will be within 100 feet of residential zoning. A land use hearing officer will hear the petition June 29. (Petition 01-0946)

A zoning hearing master is scheduled to hear the following petitions next week:

LUTZ: The developer of Avila is seeking to add nearly 6 acres to an undeveloped section of the subdivision, enlarging the plan to include 25 houses, up from 15. This section of Avila, off Crenshaw Lake Road and Lake Charles Circle, likely would add a northern Avila entrance onto one of those roads. Planners endorse the proposal, but say the developer should be required to add a turn lane on Crenshaw Lake or widen Lake Charles. (Petition 01-489)

KEYSTONE: County staffers have endorsed Leslie Land Corp.'s development plans for an upscale community on 331 acres at the east side of Race Track Road, south of S Mobley Road. Plans for Waterchase include large-lot homes, a clubhouse, shopping areas and offices. Last week the company filed another petition asking for county permission to excavate land for a 315-acre lake on the site. (Petition 01-0347)

LUTZ: The zoning judge will hear a request, which has encountered little opposition, to add office/showrooms to what had been plans for a neighborhood shopping center. The center is planned between the entrance to Crystal Lakes Manors and the Lutz McDonald's on Crystal Grove Boulevard. Planners have endorsed the change. (Petition 00-942)

KEYSTONE: A developer seeks permission to build up to 13,200 square feet of office space on 2.34 acres at Gunn Highway and Beaty Grove Drive. Planners have endorsed office development but recommended denial of neighborhood community uses on the property. (Petition 99-1318)

* * *

Hearings of county zoning hearing masters and land use hearing officers, and land use meetings of the County Commission, are held on the second floor of the County Center, 601 E Kennedy Blvd. The zoning hearings begin at 6 p.m., and the commission meetings begin at 9 a.m. Both are televised on government access channels. The land use hearing officer hearings, which are not televised, begin at 9 a.m. For information, call (813) 272-5920.

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