The Brooksville City Council voted 3-2 to allow the rezoning of the Milk-A-Way Farms property located north of Croom Road and east of Broad Street. The ruling allows for the development of 940 residential units, 50,000 square feet of commercial floor space, and a 15-acre agricultural center, which will be used as a community farm. The rezoning Ordinance was further amended during the meeting.
Council member David Bailey and Chairman Blake Bell voted against the Ordinance.
Attorney Darryl Johnston began the hearing, reviewing the history of related Ordinance 926, which was first denied by the City, then returned after a mediation hearing and subsequent agreement with additional conditions and requirements.
“We came here in February for the first reading of the ordinance that was proposed by (Community Development Director David Hainley), included the maps of Coastal (Engineering), all consistent with the original rezoning … and the mediation settlement agreement. But at some point in time, during what became a marathon session last month (February 6th), the train came off the rails, and we started talking about things outside the scope (of the original agreement).
It was during that meeting that several changes to the pending Ordinance first took place.
Johnston said his client does not consent to anything outside the scope of what the Planning and Zoning Commission already approved and the terms of the mediation settlement agreement.
The mediation settlement agreement was signed on August 2, 2022, and approved by the City Council (on August 15, 2022). Since then, three new Council members have been sworn in. If they were to object to the mediation agreement, it could result in a legal battle for the city.
“Legal counsel for this city council stated after the mediation and before it was adopted by city council, ‘If you don’t want this project, don’t approve this mediation settlement agreement.’ And, so, with that warning, the city council adopted it, and the only thing that really needed to be done was to adopt the ordinance consistent with that.”
Johnston added that any changes would need to be in writing and signed by everyone involved because it is a modification of an enforceable agreement that has already been approved.
The one concession Johnston said his client would make is with respect to architectural standards and the general look of the community.
Another pause was taken during this meeting while City Attorney Becky Vose drafted additional language for the ordinance within the scope of Johnston’s conditions. The amendments were sent via email to the petitioners, Croom Road Land Holdings, LLC, and were approved.
Language amended during this meeting:
Jacobson right of way would not be used for construction traffic or for permanent access. It would only be used for emergency access.
There will be [sic] a vegetative 20-foot buffer on US 41 in addition to the right of way.
Residential units may be developed as fee simple, rental, or condominium in accordance with the Land Use, Setbacks, and Entitlement Table. As stated above, Policy 3-5 of the Future Land Use of the Comprehensive Plan states the project may include a variety of housing types, lot sizes, and setbacks, and the residential unit design shall comply with standards that are in effect as of the date of the building permit issuance.
The buffer on the east boundary of pod two and pod three shall be 150 feet in width containing a six-foot high berm with planting consistent with the proposed landscape plan within five feet of the highest berm elevation subject to Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) requirements.
The original conditions that were agreed upon by both parties as part of the Mediation Settlement Agreement:
1. Increase the buffer of the east boundary of Pod two shall be 150 feet in width, containing a six-foot high berm with plantings consistent with the proposed landscape plan within five feet of the highest berm elevation, subject to SWFWMD requirements.
2. All infrastructure lighting except individual residential lots shall include full cutoff fixtures and shall be between 20 feet and 25 feet in height.
3. Areas designated for CROP usage outside the 15-acre agricultural area shall be limited to horticultural use only, and annual crops shall be prohibited.
4. All existing vegetation within buffer areas shall be preserved as is practical. Other
buffer areas shall be planted pursuant to the landscape plan.
5. PETITIONER shall apply for a comprehensive plan amendment to allow for and define the farm operations allowed within the 15-acre agricultural area.
6. Lots along the property boundaries of Pods two and three shall be 65 feet minimum in
This rezoning hearing was a separate public hearing in addition to Ordinance number 958, which passed unanimously to allow rezoning for the 15-acre community farm within.