The Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously at the October 14, 2019 meeting to approve the Comprehensive Plan Amendment (CPAM1902) to amend the Future Land Use Map from Recreational to Residential for a 20-acre property near Oak Hills Golf Course. The property, partially located at the north corner of Northcliffe Boulevard and Puritan Lane is planned to be a residential community of 90 homes currently designated as Oak Hill Villas.
However, in a separate vote to rezone the property from Planned Development Project (Recreational) to Planned Development Project (Single Family), the votes tallied 4-1, with Commissioner Alia Qureshi voting against the change.
Alan Garman of ProCivil 360 — a Brooksville Design Consulting firm — represented the developer Benge Development Corporation, and introduced the plan for the proposed development, starting with the most recent history of the planned land use.
The previous Master Plan approved in 2010 was for development of a golf vacation destination. The entitlements to the property included extended stay villas and motel rooms with some residential lots available. The area was also to include a restaurant and conference center with a capacity for 500, 40,000 square feet of shops, a health club and a learning center. The commission was asked to remove these entitlements with the exception of the 18 residential lots, which would remain in congruence with the new plan.
The plan is not to close or otherwise affect the current layout of the Oak Hills golf course. On the contrary, Garman reported that Oak Hills Golf Course owner, John Corporletti sees the development as a move that will help generate revenue for the course, with the potential to improve its condition. As well, membership to the golf course would be included in the purchase price of a home in the development.
The current driving range however, will be converted into homesites, and a new driving range will be constructed elsewhere on the Oak Hills course. The clubhouse is also expected to be reconstructed in another location.
Developer Tony Benge stated in a public meeting on September 3, 2019 that the modern home buyer is looking for a smaller home, rather than the large “McMansions” that were fashionable a decade or so ago. The planned residences are described as “villas,” each between 1200 – 2300 square feet, two bedrooms and two bathrooms. The average lot size was reported by Garman as 40’ x 90’. The starting price for each is planned to be $200,000.
Variations for each villa include optional single-car garages, stand-alone or attached and one or two story floor plans.
Though the density of the planned development project will be higher than the surrounding residential areas, Michelle Miller of the County Planning and Zoning Department reported that the density does not need to mirror the surrounding areas, as it is a stand-alone area with separate zoning. Miller addressed a question by Commissioner John Scharch on how the proposed density of the new development compares with the 2010 plan, reporting that the “density would be lower, but the intensity would be higher,” since the original plan included non-residential establishments such as restaurants and retail. “In terms of the overall impact, it is less with this new development proposed.”
The development will have a primary entrance from Northcliffe, which extends 215 feet into the development, and a secondary entrance which as not yet been defined. The development will be gated, with the gate placed well enough to the north to allow for “stacking” of vehicles, so as not to impede traffic flow on Northcliffe. Emergency access will also be available through the golf course, which has another connection to Northcliffe.
Garman advised that “offsite improvements may be needed” to construct a gravity sewer system and pumping station, as the golf course is currently served by septic tanks. The project is also to include a lift station and piping additions to extend to Deltona Boulevard. Provisions are to be made to connect the golf course clubhouse and restroom facilities to this sewer system. The development will have an agreement Hernando County Utilities Department (HCUD) for sewer and potable water services.
Miller added that additional utilities studies will be performed, and that the Benge Corporation has agreed to make improvements as needed.
Comments from the public in attendance expressed disapproval. Most often cited reasons for disapproval were; the the already snarled traffic at Explorer K-8 during the start and end of the school day, water drainage concerns, and a degradation of property values. Though it was stated that the new development is not to be a rental community, and the goal of the golf course is to remain open, a few residents doubt it.
Garman addressed the flooding issue by showing the site map with a drainage retention area (DRA) situated on the Northcliffe side of the property, adjacent to the proposed entrance drive. Another DRA will be constructed in the middle of the property, and a third in the northeast corner, adjacent to Keysville. Garman stated that Procivil 360 has “local jurisdiction on drainage permitting” and that his firm also must act in accordance with the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD), which stipulates that “(a building project) cannot degrade the quality or quantity of water running off the site.”
Garman admitted that there are issues with traffic in the area, and that a traffic study will need to be completed. He did say that he anticipates the entrance being accessible by right-turn only, when heading west on Northcliffe, due to the limited sight distances and size of the existing median.
Chris Hanning of Public Works and Engineering addressed the board confirming that traffic on Keysville and Puritan will also be included in the traffic analysis. A Traffic Signal Warrant Study is a separate analysis to determine if a traffic light should be installed in the areas in question. To determine the cost allocation if a signal is needed, Planning Director Ron Pianta said developer would be responsible for the signal placement if it is determined that the development generated enough traffic to warrant the signal.
School zoning was another often stated concern of citizens speaking to the board. Miller reported that the development is expected to generate 28 new students to the district, 13 for Spring Hill Elementary, 6 for Fox Chapel and 9 for Central High School.
You can find the article on the initial public information meeting here: https://www.hernandosun.com/article/spring-hill-residents-unhappy-about-development-proposal