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Council ponders Brooksville’s image in development

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Brooksville’s architectural image was on the docket during a Jan. 30 workshop meeting when members of the Brooksville City Council weighed in on how the city might amend its development codes to make sure further residential and commercial developments reflect a unique, cohesive look for the City.

According to City of Brooksville Community Development Director David Hainley, development codes dictate a range of requirements for developers, including land use, lot size, architectural embellishments, and building setbacks. While the City has a comprehensive plan to address overall development issues, it is legally easier to make changes in its building codes than it is to amend that comprehensive plan.
“I’ve been listening pretty (closely) to zoning cases and other cases from various members of council to try to get a picture of where we are (at) with the city and what we want,” Hainley said. “Is there a style that defines Brooksville? I need to know if we’re going to be George Jetson or John Boy of the Waltons.”

In response, Mayor Blake Bell referenced the traditional-looking structures located on Olive and Irene streets that feature wide porches, trees, and ample setbacks from the street. “When you’re thinking of Brooksville, those houses are what you think of – a lot of siding, porches, things of that nature – for future development,” Bell said. “In my mind, that’s what makes Brooksville unique.”

Council member Crista Tanner agreed. “I think the traditional style, and that (image) where you go down the street, and all you see are garages – that is not what I want to see,” she said. “I think that by changing our development code to reflect that a townhome is still a townhome but is not a cookie cutter – that says ‘oh, this is Brooksville.’”

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Meanwhile, Vice Mayor David Bailey worried that while changes to the development code requirements may affect the way large residential and commercial projects are developed, they may also stymie individuals who are constructing single-building projects.
“For the guy who saved up and bought a piece of property (so) they can (build) what they can afford, they have the right to do what they want with their own property,” Bailey said. “At the same time, if the developers are coming in with a big plot, we should have a blueprint.”

Council member Casey Thieryung suggested that the Council consider establishing separate requirements for the two different kinds of builders.
“Perhaps we should make it easier on people who are going to put in a single home versus a development,” he said.

Bell advised Hainley and members of the City Council that the time to establish development codes is before more development occurs.
“We’re fortunate in that we haven’t had the same growth that Pasco County (has had),” Bell said. “I think it’s coming, but we can have an identity even if we have growth.”

Hainley advised the panel about the process of making changes to the City’s development codes.
“You tell us what you want, we (the planning department) bring it back to a workshop on an ongoing basis to make sure we are going in the right direction,” he explained. “Then we bring it to the planning commission, then we bring it (back) to you all.”

Subsequent action on the code changes remains pending.

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