Hernando County’s Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously to approve a petition for a rezoning master plan (RZMP) that will add up to 153 single-family homesites in Spring Hill. Rainbow Glen is the proposed name for the 40.5-acre parcel located east of Augustine Road, west of Lima Drive, north of Linden Drive, and south of Conway Street. The parcel is directly adjacent to Linden, on which will be the entrance.
The property is also directly adjacent to the terminus at Rainbow Woods Loop, however, the language in a workshop meeting summary that the builder “May consider restricting access by installing a “Knox Box” at Rainbow Woods Loop for emergency vehicles only; however, this would need to be approved by the Hernando County Engineer.”
The Public Inquiry Workshop was held on Aug 23, 2021.
The request comes from the developer Lennar Homes, LLC, and with approval by the county commission, it would change the current zoning of Residential (R-1C) to Planned Development Project (Single-Family) (PDP(SF)).
According to the application materials, a natural vegetative buffer is proposed adjacent to those existing residential properties, since the future homesites are expected to be smaller than the surrounding sites, according to recent trends to smaller lot sizes.
Many area residents who wore matching t-shirts with the message, “Stop Urban Development” attended the meeting to oppose the rezoning of the parcel. They cited flooding, sinkholes, and overcrowding at Springstead High School, and some considered the location to be a preservation area.
Don Lacey with Coastal Engineering refuted the preserve designation and stated that the land is currently designated as residential in the current comprehensive plan. The rezoning to PDP(SF) allows the builder to present a conceptual layout to the Planning and Zoning commission for review. Keeping the zoning as R-1C also removes the requirement of large buffers. Lacey explained further that keeping the R-1C zoning designation would remove amenities that PDP(SF) usually includes. “You don’t get the placement of houses in different locations or the placement of recreation toward the center of the project, you don’t have the tree-lined road, and you don’t have all these types of things that go with a planned development project.”
Lacey estimates the student density within the new development would average 1 student for every three households, consisting of all grades, not just high school.
Coastal Engineering President Cliff Manuel added that during the development of residential neighborhoods, the school district is involved with planners and engineers. “There’s a very detailed analysis that goes on with every conditional plat,” Manuel explained, including school capacity and determining student placement.
Manuel also described Hernando County’s approach to water management as built for growth. The county has seen tremendous growth over the previous 5 years, which causes some concern about extra strain on the water system. However, Manuel explained that Hernando’s water supply is managed through a central resource that distributes clean water to households. Wastewater is treated and returned to the groundwater supply. “It’s a really good way for growth to occur.”
The sequence only works with central water, not septic and sewer systems.
Site analysis did find 1 endangered tortoise. This tortoise will be relocated to Okeechobee, FL.
The site has never been designated a preservation area or park.
Addressing citizens’ comments regarding sinkholes, Manuel said, “The entire west side of Hernando County is sand sitting over lime rock. Sand sitting over lime rock has the moderate potential of being able to form small sinkholes, and those sinkholes do need to be mitigated with any design.” He went on to say that one area on the southwest corner of the property could be an old sinkhole, and will be tested. This area is not expected to be used for homesites.
Traffic analysis will need to be performed, and Manuel stated that his staff can already see the need for a left turn lane on Linden drive to not impede traffic while turning into the development.
Stormwater issues are intended to be addressed by installing Drainage Retention Areas (DRAs), particularly at the south side of the property, which has raised concerns of flooding to neighboring residents. The roadway may need to be modified to include curb and gutter construction.