By Michael G. Nadeau
Hernando County is giving away land so a developer can make lots of money while we taxpayers receive nothing. Actually, residents in the Regency Oaks Subdivision will receive something: increased traffic, safety risks, potential crime, noise, the loss of wildlife and their habitat, and decreased property values.
What does Downtown Development Partners, LLC receive? Let’s see… they purchased three parcels totaling 158.526 sf or 3.7 acres for $323,000. The county-owned parcels that are vacated and GIVEN to the developer total 74,000 sf or 1.7 acres, some of which are the roads and right of ways for the proposed Single Family Development. Together, it creates a 5.4-acre property (all square footage numbers come from the county GIS site).
Upon purchasing the property, Downtown Development Partners, LLC listed 5.4 acres for sale in July 2022 at just under 3 million dollars as “Commercial Property.” The listing was later updated to “Pending Commercial” after a meeting in November at which the Planning and Zoning Commission postponed making a decision on the developer’s request to have the property rezoned from RESIDENTIAL to COMMERCIAL pending further study.
This represents a potential profit of 2 1/2 million dollars!!!
This raises many questions. Who gave the developers the County’s property? How much did they pay the County for the 1.7 acres? When was it sold? Was the County property even listed for sale? With the County’s 1.7 acres or 31 percent of the total area, will the county be receiving a $775,000 share of the profit? I am sure Sheriff Nienhuis would love to hire a half-dozen Deputies, or Superintendent Stratton would love to hire a dozen teachers with that $775,000.
When you read the Planning and Zoning Commission Agenda Item (H-22-28) for the proposed rezoning, it reads straightforward, with nothing to raise any red flags to the reader or reviewer. It was written as if a special interest lobbyist wrote the agenda item and recommendations! You can read this online yourself, at https://hernandocountyfl.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx (look for the 11/14 Planning and Zoning meeting).
The Applicable Criteria and Proposed Development master plan must be consistent with the Hernando County Comprehensive Plan, 2040 Planned Future Land Use. It states, “any potential issues will be the responsibility of the Developers to resolve” and pay for the fix.
The Planning Division of the Hernando County Development Services Department recommended that the Planning and Zoning Commission adopt a resolution approving the petitioner’s request for rezoning from PDP (SF) Planned Development Project (Single Family) to PDP GC (General Commercial) with performance conditions. If the P&Z Commission approves this, then it escalates to the Board of County Commissioners for final approval.
There were a few inaccurate and misleading statements in the H-22-28 Agenda material. The first incorrect statement is on page 4, COMPREHENSIVE PLAN REVIEW.
1. It states the subject property is located within the Commercial land use classification on the adopted Future Land Use Map. Actually, only an approximate half acre, or less than ten percent of the entire 5.7 area parcel, is within it. With the minimum Commercial Building Setbacks of 35’ off Frontage Road and 20’ Side, it leaves just two-tenths of an acre of useable land in the Future Land Use Map of Commercial Designated land – clearly NOT the entire 5.4-acre parcel.
2. It also states the area is characterized by commercial uses to the south and east and single-family homes to the north. They left out the fact that there are also homes to the west – 470 of them in the Regency Oaks subdivision (since there are four directions).
3. Under Commercial Category Comments (pg 5, Strategy 1.04G(1): the misleading statement “The subject property is in a Commercial Land use designation according to the Future Land Use Map. The proposed use is consistent with the Hernando County Comprehensive Plan related to commercial development” is repeated.
4. The neighborhood commercial use reasoning in the Strategy 1.04G(1) does not meet the standards set in Hernando County Comprehensive Plan 2040 Future Land Use. In the FLE strategy 1.04G(10): Neighborhood Commercial areas are guided by the following use criteria:
b. have a maximum total size of five (5) acres overall; It’s 5.4 acres.
d. will not result in degradation of roadway levels of service; The intersection of Breakwater and Frontage is already dangerously difficult to navigate, and additional traffic will make it a great safety issue.
f. are designed to serve the convenience and personal service needs of nearby residents where such services are not otherwise reasonably available and are proximate to the population areas supported; There are plenty of restaurants and vacant commercial space in this area.
g. will not compromise the integrity of residential or rural areas; this commercial development will destroy wildlife habitat and, add traffic, noise, and bring potential criminal activity to a residential area.
5. Under Findings of Facts: “consistent with the County’s adopted Comprehensive Plan and is compatible with the surrounding land uses subject to compliance with all performance conditions.” Which is an outright misleading statement and factually incorrect.
I urge everyone concerned about preserving Spring Hill as a place where people can build homes and move into residential development without having to worry about future rezoning ruining their way of life to stop this over-building of commercial property development.