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Rezoning for Apartments on Osowaw Voted Down

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The Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) agree with local residents that the rezoning of 13.9 acres west of Commercial Way is out of step with the surrounding community. The plans for a 100-unit multi-family development was voted down during Tuesday’s county commission meeting unanimously, citing incompatibility of “intensity and density” with the surrounding area.

Located on the south side of Osowaw Boulevard just west of Commercial Way, the parcel is adjacent to the east boundary of the Forest Glen subdivision of single-family homes. The planned architecture featured 4-story, 55 foot structures.

The agenda item drew several area residents to express their opposition to the intended project. No one from the public spoke in support of the petition.

Several spoke about concerns for income-limited and workforce housing located close to Hernando Beach, where property values reach over $1-million. County Attorney Jon Jouben advised that the wealth of future residents cannot be considered when determining land use.

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Following Citizen’s Comments, Commissioner Brian Hawkins addressed the positive aspects of affordable housing at the location, such as proximity to shopping and job opportunities. Hawkins said he understands the need for affordable housing, “But it’s the density and the height that I’m having the biggest concern with.”

Hawkins added, “I’m a product of Section 8 housing. To talk about the emotional aspect of people who don’t have money or (receive) government assistance … We cannot make decisions based on emotions. We have to make decisions based on objectivity and what can hold up in court.”

A representative for Raysor Ventures, LLC responded to Hawkins’ comments, during which he verbally amended the original request, reducing the maximum units from 101 to 100, and building heights to 55 feet from 65 feet.

Commissioners Steve Champion and Jerry Campbell were staunchly opposed to the project. Champion stated he will never vote for apartment buildings on Hernando Beach and made the motion to deny the rezoning petition. Hawkins seconded.

Campbell said, “I have concerns with compatibility, I have concerns with intensity, I have concerns with density, I have concerns with height. I appreciate the concessions (by Raysor), but the deviations, I cannot get behind.”

Though in agreement with Hawkins, Champion and Campbell, Commissioner John Allocco is concerned about future growth requiring higher-density housing. “My concern long-term with any of these projects today is that Florida will be changing significantly, unfortunately over the next 10-15 years. These densities that we’re concerned about right now will probably be like nothing as this growth happens long-term.”

With the rising cost of car insurance, Allocco speculates car ownership may decline, and housing with nearby access to shopping and employers may be necessary in the future.

Zoning map of Osowaw property [Credit: Hernando County Central GIS]
Zoning map of Osowaw property [Credit: Hernando County Central GIS]

Lisa MacNeil
Lisa MacNeil
Lisa MacNeil is a reporter for the Hernando Sun as well as a business technology developer, specializing in website development, content management systems, and data analysis.
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