Members of the Brooksville City Council lent their unanimous approval to the rezoning request that will allow the development of 171 single-family detached homes in Southern Pines. The vote took place during the panel’s regular meeting on Feb. 6.
Located on the south side of Cortez Boulevard – S.R. 50 and immediately west of Mobley Road, the petition requested that an approximately 41.11-acre tract from Hernando County Agricultural (AG) and City of Brooksville Planned Development Project-Residential (PDP-R)to City of Brooksville PDP-R.
James Dix, president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Dix Developments, owner of the Southern Pines project, said that the zoning change would allow the development of 171 single-family homes with 4,400 sq. ft. lots, 40 feet in width with 23-foot front yards, 15-foot rear yards and five-foot side yards.
Under the request, the developer will also maintain the previously approved and developed pair of condominium buildings with 32 units each and a related recreation complex. “We have been working with staff for two years to make sure we crossed all our T’s and dotted all our I’s, and we spend four to six months just working with the residents,” Dix said.
During his comments to the Council, Brooksville City Planner Steve Gouldman, AICP, recommended that the panel approve the rezoning plan.
“We found it compatible with the comprehensive plan and compatible with the surrounding zoning,” Gouldman told the group. “Also, during your last action on Jan. 9, you unanimously found the request compatible and consistent with the (comprehensive) plan, and you approved that ordinance, so we recommend the same (today).”
In response, Vice-Mayor David Bailey questioned Gouldman about the project’s compatibility with development codes currently being prepared by the city for later approval by the Council. Those codes will dictate a range of requirements for developers, including land use, lot size, architectural embellishments, and building setbacks.
“Is this new development going to reflect the architectural (development) plan that we’re coming up with soon?” Bailey asked. “My reasoning is that I’m trying to keep everything fair across the board with every developer that comes through our doors.”
In response, Gouldman said that he objects to adding language (in the new development codes) that requires that the City judge projects based on new code to be applied to each and every district where a project is ongoing. “And it is rather difficult to do that,” he said. “Also, you’d be changing the game after they’ve been here just a month ago.”
Gouldman did say that the city has both required and “encouraged” the project’s developer to meet some architectural standards.
“We have set the garages back 25 feet from the right of way so that you can get that Dodge Ram in there and not have it poking over the sidewalk,” Gouldman said. “We’ve required that.”
In addition, for the Southern Pines project, the City allowed a 20-foot front yard setback from the principal facade. “Meaning that we will allow it to set five feet in front of the garage,” Gouldman said.
The City has also allowed a four-foot porch to be added to the single-family homes, to extend it eight feet into the front yard, moving it to about 12 feet from the right of way. “If it (the house) has a porch, it has to be covered; it has to be six feet in depth and eight feet wide,” Gouldman said.
Ultimately the Council voted to approve the zoning change by a 5-0 vote.