At the regular Planning and Zoning meeting on Feb. 10, 2020 the board recommended the rezoning of 5 of the 6 parcels petitioned by Hartland Homes, Inc. Hartland Homes is owned by State Representative Blaise Ingoglia (R - Spring Hill). The sale and potential development of the properties has been opposed by residents, most of them neighboring the various properties.
The board recommended against the rezoning of a parcel bordering Holiday Drive and Trafalgar Drive.
Hartland is seeking rezoning of the properties from PDP-REC (Planned Development Project - Recreational) to PDP-SF (Single Family).
The recommendations by the Planning and Zoning Board will be heard by the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) on March 10, 2020 for final determination.
A sizable group of concerned residents attended the meeting to voice their opposition and concern over the propriety of the sale to Hartland Homes in addition to the development of the green spaces which were once slated to be neighborhood parks.
Don Lacey of Coastal Engineering explained that the parcels were, “Designated as recreation on the original plan. They were turned over to the county at some point in time. The County Commission has decided to sell those parcels for purposes of development.”
Assistant County Attorney Kyle Benda explained the history of the park designation for the parcels in question. “The deed that where the property was transferred from the Deltona Corporation to the county was back in 1987, and as a condition of that deed it required that that these properties that were designated as parks by the by the Deltona Corporation were to remain as parks or for recreational purposes for 21 years.”
Those designations expired in 2008, and the owner of the properties -- Hernando County -- is legally able to do what they wish with them.
The first parcel discussed is on Oleta Street and Kane Street, where the plan is for an addition of 12 single family homes. Each lot is to be fitted with a septic system, as are existing lots in the neighborhood. County Planning Director Ron Pianta explained that these will be advanced septic systems, designed to reduce nitrogen introduced into the springshed, which is a new requirement of Florida state law.
Resident Mark Hahn collected 80 signatures from his neighbors dissenting the proposed development. Hahn told the board that there is an assortment of wildlife inhabiting the property, including an eagle. The first of several expressing dissatisfaction with the way the sale was conducted, Hahn said, “(The county is) selling this off at $10,000 acre if you put 12 houses there that's $156,000 you're only paying $400,000 for all these properties? It doesn’t seem right, and it’s unsolicited … If you’re going to sell it for $10,000 an acre, I want some acres.”
Hahn’s statement was followed by an eruption of applause from the audience. Numerous others who came to address the board also stated that if they had been aware of the property being offered for sale, they would have been interested in a purchase.
Zoning board member John Scharch said, “I'm a big fan of development, but this concerned me, and I have a feeling that we're going to see (this concern) on all the other (parcels) that we're going to speak to today. I look at this, and I see Central Park. You have a plethora of homes around it. It's a bit of green space that’s utilized by wildlife and I kind of like that. The other thing that bothers me, is that it was an unsolicited bid …”
Scharch was interrupted by Pianta, who admonished the board, “Those decisions are the Board of County Commissioners’, you are not here to talk about how the property was surplused, what the price of the property is… The BOCC made a decision that this is surplus property, and there's been an offer made. The offer is pending an application for a rezoning so you're here to talk about the application for rezoning.”
Baya further explained that the Planning and Zoning Board’s role is to discuss the impacts of the properties’ planned developments, and whether or not they are consistent with their respective surrounding areas.
Chairperson Alia Qureshi quieted the room several times due to angry outbursts from the audience. Qureshi explained that the role of the Planning and Zoning Board is to make recommendations to the BOCC, but this board has no ultimate effect on the final decision by the County Commission. She further advised that members of the Planning and Zoning Board are volunteers and not elected officials.
Board member Ronald Cohen conveyed his understanding of the public sentiment, and mentioned that he and his dog also enjoy the property. “Seeing as our charge is to address the compatibility of the site, and looking at the adjacent property… I don’t think we have the legal jurisdiction to say, ‘This doesn’t fit.’”
The commision recommended approval of the rezoning 4-1, with Scharch having the dissenting vote.
Scharch voted to not recommend approval for the remaining properties as well.