Home At Home & Beyond Rezoning hearing for Brookstone apartments project in south Brooksville to be continued

Rezoning hearing for Brookstone apartments project in south Brooksville to be continued

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Area map of proposed development via city of Brooksville.

The Brooksville City Council voted unanimously to continue a hearing of a rezoning petition (RZ 2022-04) by LDG Development on behalf of Brookstone Apartments, LLC. If approved, LDG will continue to obtain permitting to allow for construction of an apartment complex with up to 240 dwelling units of up to 3 bedrooms. The continuance was requested by the applicant representatives to improve elements of the request, and will be heard on November 21, 2022.

The 14.41 acre property is currently zoned R1B, R2 and R3 (residential designations), and if approved, the requested zoning change will designate the property as PDP – planned development project.

The irregularly shaped property is located at the south side of Daniel Avenue, bordered by South Mildred Avenue to the west. The eastern border at its widest point is along Hale Avenue. The narrow southernmost end is at the north side of West Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard (MLK).

Sam Bick, Senior Development Manager with LDG Development emphasized that the development is to be affordable workforce housing, “This will not be a subsidized property. Households (will) need to be income qualified at or below 60% of the area median income.” He added, “The rents are set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and they’re modified and published annually.” Additionally, residents must demonstrate the ability to pay rent, and pass required credit and background checks.

Officially, the development is designated Section 42, financed through tax credits and multifamily mortgage revenue bonds financed through the Florida Housing Finance Corporation.

The Development site plan contains 40% open space, which is double the existing requirement by the city. It will also feature recreational areas, a fitness center, playground, clubhouse, computer center and pool. Fencing and buffers will be included as recommended by City of Brooksville staff to ensure compatibility with surrounding neighborhoods.

Elise Batsel of Stearns Weaver Miller, attorneys for the developer pointed out that the R3 designation already permits multifamily structures, while the R1 and R2 categories do not, which is inconsistent. “We have modeled this planned development application after the R3 standards that you have set forth in your code.”

The existing R3 designation stipulates that building height cannot exceed 50 feet. Batsel stated that LDP’s buildings are a maximum of 40 feet. Neighboring single family homes are permitted to be built up to 35 feet in height.

Access points of the development are planned keeping traffic in mind. One full-access entrance is to be built on MLK. A gated exit-only point will be installed along Hale Avenue. An entrance accessible to only emergency services will be constructed from Mildred Avenue. David Smith later mentioned that the entrances and exits were designed to ensure neighboring homes would not be bothered by traffic or light pollution.
A traffic analysis will be required as part of the permitting process.

David Smith director of Development and Zoning for Stearns Weaver mentioned that the city’s comprehensive plan is to “encourage infill development.” He also noted that there has not been a lot of multifamily development within Brooksville over the years. Smith also stated that LDG successfully invests in its community development. “We want to be good citizens.”

LDG’s financing structure requires that they provide at least three different family-oriented services, the first, likely to be after an after-school program. Some of LDG’s communities have provided services such as financial management and job skills, and they are considering partnerships with local healthcare providers and insurance carriers to offer wellness programs at Brookstone.

Batsel concluded by acknowledging the issues of stormwater, wildlife, and mature trees. She stated that because the site is sloped, that grading and leveling will need to take place, and the applicant will be working with City engineers for the best solution. These issues will need to be addressed and approved before work on the development could move forward.

School concurrency is another issue faced by the developer, which will be addressed at the time of permitting. If at that time, a deficit is known, the developer will enter into an agreement with the school system, effectively giving the school board $28,000 per student space needed so more schools or student space can be built.

Three citizens spoke during the comments segment, two opposing the development. Kathleen Griffiths told the council, “If you put an apartment complex there, It’s renters, they’re not homeowners. You will degrade the property values in the homes around there. And we have plenty of affordable housing.” She ended by saying, “ You really doom the whole southeast area if you put in this affordable housing, we don’t need it. We have plenty.”

Connie Green, President of the South Brooksville Tax Redevelopment Advisory Committee (TRAC) disagreed, contending that many of the single-family homes in the South Brooksville area are run down or uninhabitable. Green stated that she has spoken to area residents, who welcome the development, and “are excited that they’ll be able to have better quality of life … The residents of South Brooksville are looking forward to this … So if you are afraid that’s going to be a slum or project – no it’s not. These are working people that want to live decent lives like all of you live.”