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Master Plan Revision to Impact Hernando Oaks

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Commissioners at the regular Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) meeting on May 10, 2022, voted 4-1 to allow a Master Plan revision and rezoning of 3 parcels just north of the entrance of the Hernando Oaks subdivision. Commissioner Jeff Holcomb was the opposing vote.

Dire Wolf Holdings, LLC plans to develop the 64.9 acres with up to 175 single-family homes, however, the top issue discussed is access to the future development. Site plans show the southern entrance will be from Grand Entrada Boulevard, which is a private road, owned by Hernando Oaks. The northern access will be from a roadway constructed on the west side of US 41 / Broad Street, across from Pine Cabin Road.

The entrance is 400 feet from the guard gate, roughly one-third of a mile from Broad Street. Hernando County Planner Ron Pianta indicated the length of Grand Entrada during the presentation of the aerial and site maps, and said, “I believe (Grand Entrada) is private. The Planning and Zoning Commission attached an additional condition for you that if the applicant cannot legally obtain access to Grand Entrada, they would have to come back with a major Master Plan revision.”

Pianta continued, “I think the applicant is going to make the contention that they have the right to access… that those access points were previously approved, and they have the legal authority to have that access. However, they will have to demonstrate that to the County through the development process. If they cannot do that, they will have to modify the zoning.”

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Holcomb asked County Attorney Jon Jouben at this point how the board would determine if the applicant is providing proper documentation to prove their legal right to use the roadway. Jouben responded, “We’ve always taken the position that only a court of competent jurisdiction can make that determination.”

Hernando Oaks resident Jim Nevens requested legal Party Status at this point in the meeting, which gives extra time to residents who wish to speak on the matter and expands speakers’ rights to be able to ask questions of the other party. Jouben stated, “Traditionally, we have limited party status to people who would have standing to appeal a land-use case. In this case, that’s usually someone who is adjacent or a directly affected property owner around the subject parcel.”

The Hernando Sun spoke with Nevens, who stated that he and fellow resident Rebecca Glenn were granted party status at the Planning and Zoning Commission at the April 11th hearing. County Attorney Kyle Benda stated during that meeting, that Party Status can be granted to those directly affected, such as Glenn, whose property is adjacent to the parcels in question, but also to those impacted by “how (the revision and rezoning) will affect the character of the neighborhood …if it affects covenants and setback requirements of the other neighborhood.”

Planning and Zoning recommended unanimously that the Master Plan revision and rezoning proceed.

Nevens also provided the Hernando Sun with a copy of objections by the residents of Hernando Oaks. They can be found at the end of this article. Nevens reports that at least 400 Hernando Oaks’ residents signed a petition related to the objections.

“We were able to demonstrate that we were impacted by this proposal more than the general public,” Nevens said. “We have a financial interest because of the collective ownership of the roads. We are also users of the roads, and the increase in traffic has a definite impact on us, and those criteria were satisfactory for Planning and Zoning to recognize us as an aggrieved party, and therefore we are entitled to Party Status.”

Chairman Steve Champion said, “My real problem is, why isn’t the HOA President here?”

Nevens and Glenn expressed their frustration as well. The current HOA President was out of town during this meeting. Glenn added that the HOA is still bank-owned.

Another Hernando Oaks resident named Steve joined Nevens and Glenn to seek Party Status, as his property is within 500 feet of the applicant’s parcels.

Commissioner Wayne Dukes made a motion to grant Party Status, although he did not specify which residents it would apply to. There was no second, so Dukes’ motion died. Party status was not granted to anyone. Several voices from the audience could be heard at this point, and Champion warned, “If you burst out, you’re going to be removed from the audience.”

Don Lacey of Coastal Engineering, who represents Dire Wolf Holdings began his presentation at this point, explaining that the southernmost triangular-shaped parcel was once a part of Hernando Oaks and considered a village center with multiple uses, “… such as townhomes, multifamily, office, commercial, all of those things were allotted to that particular triangle which was part of (Hernando Oaks).”

Lacey went on to say that the access points to the southernmost parcel were built before the petitioner acquired the property to provide access for future development. Lacey displayed previous Master Plans showing a frontage road with access points to this parcel.

In 2012, the southernmost parcel was sold to the RMC Property Group. The course as to how it was acquired by Dire Wolf Holdings was not established at this meeting.

Pianta added, “Part of this demonstration is that they’re in compliance with the original Master Plan that was previously approved that fully anticipated this access, and fully anticipated it continuing to the north.”

Commissioner Holcomb commented that when the southernmost, triangular-shaped parcel was planned with access points, there was not a development planned to the north. “We’re adding everything that’s to be developed to the north to that entrance. I think that’s the issue.”

Cliff Manuel, President of Coastal Engineering is the engineer of record for Hernando Oaks. He designed the roads and systems that anticipated the village center. He said, “At that time, in 2000 and 2006 that town center was proposed for development, the County had the wisdom to require through it, a frontage road that went from (Grand) Entrada, north to the property we’re talking about, that (Dire Wolf Holdings) had purchased. (They) also bought the triangle with the frontage road in it.”

Manuel also said that even though Grand Entrada is privately maintained, it is not a restricted road. Until one approaches the guard gate, anyone can drive on that section of roadway. “It’s a public roadway maintained by a private entity, and that’s different from a restricted access point, where you have to go through a gate to get to some piece of property.”

“This was always meant to be public,” Manuel continued. “Town Center, shopping area, stores, everybody from 41 can come into Entrada and go into the Town Center.”

Pianta confirmed that Manuel’s statements are consistent with the former Master Plans for Hernando Oaks.

Going forward, the matter could possibly transcend the BOCC and be settled in the court system.

The board’s approval also rezones the property from CPDP/(Combined Planned Development
Project), AG/(Agricultural) and C-2/(Highway Commercial) to PDP(SF)/Planned Development Project (Single Family), PDP(GC)/Planned Development Project (General Commercial), and PDP(SU)/Planned Development Project (Special Use).

Residents’ Objections

HERNANDO OAKS ROADS ARE PRIVATE PROPERTY

We ask that any permission granted to Dire Wolf for the use of Hernando Oaks private roads include a precondition that Dire Wolf and the Hernando Oaks HOA reach a binding enforceable agreement on cost-sharing as well as a capital contribution.

HERNANDO OAKS ROADS CANNOT SUPPORT DIRE WOLF TRAFFIC

We ask that any permission granted to Dire Wolf for the use of Hernando Oaks’ private roads be conditioned on a prior independent traffic study that considers traffic from connectivity to future development to north and west of Dire Wolf. The Hernando Oaks HOA should also be afforded reasonable input and review of this study.

HERNANDO OAKS COMMERCIAL PARCEL SHOULD NOT BE C1

We ask that this area remain undeveloped and undisturbed (to the degree possible) and zoned for flood control and, if retained, this commercial parcel be relocated to abut the other commercial parcels to the north.

If retained, we ask that it not be expanded from 3 acres to 4 acres to minimize the negative impacts to Hernando Oaks.

If retained, we ask that this parcel not be generic C1 zoning. Any acceptable development should be low rise, low noise, low traffic, daytime hours only with minimal lighting and signage and in alignment with Hernando Oaks aesthetics. C3 or PO zoning would be more appropriate.

If retained, we ask that the Residential Protection Standards be made applicable based on the distance between this parcel and any Hernando Oaks parcel rather than based on the distance of a single-family Hernando Oaks parcel.

HERNANDO OAKS ENTRANCE MUST BE PRESERVED

Comments were made at the Planning and Zoning Commission hearing to the effect that Dire Wolf will work with the Hernando Oaks HOA to arrive at a permanent arrangement enabling the Hernando Oaks HOA to continue to maintain this area. To preserve the incentive for reaching this objective, we ask that this arrangement be made a precondition for approval of the Dire Wolf proposal.

INADEQUATE RESIDENTIAL BUFFERING ON GRAND ENTRADA

We ask that this area have a tall, dense vegetative buffer, 50’ minimum and 100’ preferred. We also ask that this area contain no multi-story residences or other structures.

INADEQUATE BUFFERING AROUND COMMERCIAL PARCEL

We ask that the code-mandated 125’ buffering along US41 be left in place in order to help preserve the aesthetics of the Hernando Oaks entrance. A lesser buffer combined with the proposed berm construction and other activity would likely result in the complete destruction of the trees in this area which are an important element of the Hernando Oaks entrance.

Similarly, to minimize the negative impacts on Hernando Oaks, we object to anything less than the code-mandated buffering along Grand Entrada. Comments were made at the P&Z hearing to the effect that Dire Wolf will work with the community on finalizing this buffering. To preserve the incentive for reaching resolution, we ask that these discussions be made a precondition for approval of the Dire Wolf proposal.

ENSURE NO INCREASED FLOOD IMPACT TO HERNANDO OAKS

We are asking that any permission granted to Dire Wolf:
— Include a condition that all runoff be captured and retained within Dire Wolf
— Include a condition that the flood risk categories for Hernando Oaks are not worsened
— Include a condition that the flood study address any impacts on Hernando Oaks, including maintenance costs of its retention areas and the results of a failure within Dire Wolf’s mitigation scheme
— Include a condition that the flood study be completed in advance and that Hernando Oaks will be afforded the opportunity to review and appeal the flood study recommendations and plans before final adoption

BOUNDARIES SHOULD BE WALLED

For high visibility impact areas, such as along Grand Entrada and where lots are in close proximity, we ask for decorative 8’ masonry construction. Comments were made at the Planning and Zoning Commission hearing to the effect that Dire Wolf will work with the community on this topic. To preserve the incentive for reaching resolution, we ask that these discussions and finalization be made a precondition for approval of the Dire Wolf proposal.

REVISED DIRE WOLF PROPOSAL REQUIRES A NEW PIW (Public Information Workshop)

We now ask that a new PIW(s) be held at a venue suitable for a development with 400+ residences prior to Dire Wolf being approved by the BOCC.

PROPOSED REVISION TO THE HERNANDO OAKS CPDP REQUIRES MAJORITY APPROVAL

Consequently, we respectfully ask that the approval of the Dire Wolf proposal be withheld until such time as this required approval is obtained.

Lisa MacNeil
Lisa MacNeil
Lisa MacNeil is a reporter for the Hernando Sun as well as a business technology developer, specializing in website development, content management systems, and data analysis.
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