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Williamsburg residents get concession from developer

The proposed shopping center near the new State Road 56 will have a fence buffering the neighborhood, and trucks will be banned from the entrance on Williamsburg Drive.

By JAMES THORNER

© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 24, 2001


WILLIAMSBURG -- About 40 residents of the Williamsburg neighborhood pried concessions from the developer of a 42-acre shopping center at the entrance of their subdivision in Wesley Chapel.

Crescent Resources Inc., a subsidiary of Duke Energy, proposes building 216,000 square feet of stores anchored by a supermarket on the northeast corner of Williamsburg Drive and Bruce B. Downs Boulevard.

The Pasco County Development Review Committee approved preliminary construction plans Thursday for the Shoppes at New Tampa, whose selection of stores has yet to be announced.

But approval came only after neighbors persuaded developers to screen the back of the shopping center facing their homes with trees and ban delivery trucks from the neighborhood entrance on Williamsburg Drive.

In the initial agreement with the county, developers proposed planting 19 trees on an 800-foot-long buffer between the shopping center and Williamsburg, a 20-year-old neighborhood of 234 homes.

That wasn't enough for neighbors, who complained about the retention pond developers proposed digging near about 11 homes. Nor were residents happy about Crescent Resources' promise of a wooden fence to screen the pond.

"These people don't have to live there. We do. We have to see that nasty wooden fence," Williamsburg resident Todd Morrison told the development committee.

Brent Smith, retail project manager for Crescent, agreed to negotiate with the homeowners association to devise a landscaping plan. He also assured neighbors that trucks would not use the entrance on Williamsburg Drive.

Smith said that his was a reputable company with $400-million in business each year. "We are not a fly-by-night group of guys," he said.

But some neighbors still bemoaned the rapid commercialization of Bruce B. Downs Boulevard. The Shoppes at New Tampa's northern boundary will bump against the still-to-open State Road 56.

Why not place a moratorium on construction until the county can catch up with its infrastructure, wondered Williamsburg resident Gerald Cooper.

"Let these developers sit on their hands a while," Cooper told the development committee.

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