Last Spring, members of the Brooksville City Council gave their approval to the establishment of a six-month moratorium on development within city boundaries. According to Mayor Blake Bell, the pause gave the city a chance to remake its development codes.
“This was brought forward because we have a lot of growth going on in Florida, we have a lot of growth going on in Hernando County, and we have a lot of growth going on in Brooksville,” Bell said. “Unfortunately, we (have been) working off old documents and old plans that do not take into account the direction this council wants to go with growth.”
The result was the establishment of a new set of rules for the development, especially of residential properties.
Specifically, the standards increased setbacks between multifamily and single-family buildings based on building height. According to Bell, the allowed number of stories in apartment buildings was decreased from up to five stories to two-stories.
New rules for planned developments allow developers to specifically describe to the City what they plan to propose.
Meanwhile, new commercial design standards require that pictures be submitted in order to clarify the intent of design standards and make standards more compatible with new residential guidelines.
In addition, the new codes developed design guidelines for residential developments compliant with state code limitations and established design standards for multifamily developments that make them look and feel more like Brooksville homes. “Through this, mandated homes would not be ‘cookie-cutter’ style,” Bell said.
The new code also refines and clarifies the City’s existing standards pertaining to landscaping and tree protection, establishes landscaping requirements for single-family units based upon lot width, requires that the City Council approve the removal of large trees and adds a new requirement that developers plant additional trees when a tree is removed for development.
Finally, the new code established a Design Review Board to review proposed single-family architecture as required in the single-family guidelines.
Bell said that he especially appreciated certain new rules. “My favorite highlights as Mayor include the mandate that all new apartment complexes cannot be taller than two stories, increased tree protections for large trees throughout the city, and customized development standards for planned communities that look and feel like Brooksville homes, not cookie cutter style,” he said.
He also said that there is some misunderstanding about mixed-use development that allows developers to build out residential units on the second floors of downtown buildings that have storefronts on the first floor.
“There is an urban legend about that,” Bell said. “People think there is a prohibition against (mixed use) but we encourage (it) as a city.”
In any case, Bell said that the new code is intended to help the city meet growth-related challenges over the long term.
“This is not something that we are putting into place for the next two months, for the next two years – this blueprint will be for the next three to four years,” Bell said. “ We are hopeful that this creates a legacy in Brooksville for the next 20-30-40 years that when our children’s children look back on this – and when they drive through Brooksville – they can be proud that this council took a stand to make sure that Brooksville stayed small town small.”