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City of Brooksville challenged by developer who was denied rezoning

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On June 6, 2022, Brooksville City Council voted 3-2 to deny the rezoning of a parcel of land located at the corner of Cortez Boulevard and Horse Lake Road (RZ-2020-02). The applicant, 1740 Acquisition, LLC’s intent is to build 10,000 square feet of commercial space and up to 300 market-rate apartment units.

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The owners of the property are listed on the application as Rosa M. & Randall P. Ross, Charles Sheffield, and Randall P. Rossi, Co-Trustees of Rossi Land Trust II. Attorney Darryl Johnston appeared as a representative for Acquisition and Rossi Land Trust II at the June 6 hearing. The reason for the denial on this date was stated by Council Member Betty Erhard, that changing the zoning from C-3 (Highway Commercial) to PDP-MU (Planned Development Project-Mixed Use) would not be consistent with the current Comprehensive Plan.

Sometime between the June 6 hearing and July 18, 2022, the city’s law firm learned of the applicant’s request for a “70.51 Hearing.” The term for the hearing is derived from Florida Statute 70.51, officially cited as the “Florida Land Use and Environmental Dispute Resolution Act.” The request for a hearing was filed by Attorney Johnston, on behalf of Rossi Land Trust II.

In a letter dated July 18, 2022, City Attorney John Cary of the Vose Law Firm agreed to have Jimmy Crawford of Crawford, Modica & Holt serve as Special Magistrate to preside over an upcoming “70.51 Hearing.” The hearing date is expected in August but has yet to be determined. It will be held at Brooksville City Hall, at 201 Howell Avenue.

The letter from Cary states that the city agrees to Crawford’s rate of $350 per hour, $200 per hour for planning, and $165 an hour for paralegal work. City Council approved Vose’s choice of Magistrate and the stated fees.

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