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Plan for homes galvanizes foes

Residents mount a campaign against a rezoning to allow six houses and 137 town homes near Veterans Expressway.

By TIM GRANT

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 21, 2000


ODESSA -- As if rush hour traffic on Hutchison Road were not bad enough, homeowners fear it will get worse if the county approves the development of 137 town homes near the Veterans Expressway.

Hundreds of Keystone and Odessa residents living in the new subdivisions north of Ehrlich Road are likely to be affected by more cars traveling on this scenic two-lane highway.

Traffic studies estimate the development would generate 860 car trips a day to Hutchison and Rawls roads.

For the past several weeks, drivers along Hutchison Road have probably noticed a sign outside the house at 15708 Hutchison Road thatasks residents to attend a public hearing and oppose the rezoning petition when it goes before the zoning hearing master at 6 p.m. Monday at the County Center on Kennedy Boulevard.

"One way or the other, with all the traffic they are creating on Hutchison Road, the county will have to widen it and the next thing you know there will be commercial development," said George Scherer of Half Moon Lake Road, who led a petition drive in his neighborhood.

A real estate trust wants to rezone a split tract on both sides of Veterans Expressway for six single-family homes and 137 town homes.

The Cowart Real Estate Trust plans to build on 35 acres just to the north of Rawls Road. Plans call for homes built on the western side of the expressway, and town homes just east of the toll road.

An attorney for the trust said two separate homeowner associations would be formed for the development just south of Half Moon Lake. The trust is requesting that the zoning be changed from agricultural and single family homes to multifamily zoning.

Currently, one home per acre is allowed at the two sites.

"If this area has to be developed, it should be single family one-story homes just like the rest of the community," Hutchison Road residents Robert and Barbara Williams wrote in a letter they circulated to surrounding property owners. County traffic engineers have been anticipating development in this area. A new access road already on the drawing board would run between Williams Nursey and the Williamses' home on Hutchison Road. Two more access roads will meet Rawls Road, and another will meet the northwest section of the property that is up for rezoning.

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