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Planned office construction upsets Bay Lake community

A company wants to erect five to seven buildings about 500 to 700 feet from a residential area. But the residents say that's too close.

By JACKIE RIPLEY

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 4, 2000


CARROLLWOOD -- Except for the occasional wail of a siren or the not so distant hum of traffic, residents around Bay Lake say there's little to distract from their pastoral lifestyle.

Until now.

A local developer wants to build an office complex on about two acres north of Moran Road and east of North Dale Mabry Highway, a virtual stone's throw from their lakefront homes. The problem, they say, is not the office complex but the intrusion into their neighborhood.

"We are not against development and a person enjoying and improving what they've got within the rights of what the property allows," said Roy Wilcox, who lives on Bay Lake Lane and is president of the Bay Lake Home Owners Association. "But this is ridiculous."

Waterford Construction and Development Inc. wants to build five to seven single-story offices on Moran Road, ranging in size from 2,500 to 6,000 square feet and bordered by landscaping. Access would be to Moran Road with offices located about 500 to 700 feet from homes, a distance residents say is too close for comfort.

"When do you stop?" Wilcox said. "When do you draw a line?"

The developer, however, sees the office complex as a perfect buffer between commercial and residential areas. It would be located near Dale Mabry -- a six-lane divided highway -- other professional office buildings, a tire store and a credit union.

"We think it's reasonable," said Michael Horner, a professional planner representing Waterford Construction. "We're not tearing apart a neighborhood."

In fact, Horner said Waterford Construction president John Westfall plans to amend the rezoning request. Instead of asking for a rezoning from residential to business professional offices, he will ask for a planned development district. Horner said the designation would place stricter guidelines on the developer, would require stringent attention to detail and would commit the developer to such items as parking, landscaping, number of trees left, where the driveway will be located, even where the trash bin will be placed.

"John is proud of what he develops," Horner said. "The homeowners indicated some concern, and my client always works with neighbors."

The rezoning request will go before a zoning hearing master July 10.

-- Jackie Ripley can be reached at (813) 226-3468 or ripley@sptimes.com.

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