Homeowners living along Fletch Road may have won a battle to stop their small rural street from becoming the primary entrance of a large new community.
Southern Crafted Homes, which had proposed a 120-unit project around Curve Lake just northwest of Ehren Cutoff, has apparently abandoned its plans to use Fletch Road’s indirect access to U.S. 41, and instead looks poised to purchase nearby property to provide direct access to Ehren Cutoff.
That’s exactly what one neighbor, Bobbi Smith, hoped she would someday hear.
“All we wanted was for the traffic to go a different way,” Smith said. “That’s the answer to everybody’s concern.”
Southern Crafted worked to get approvals for its project — now known as Pristine Lakes — last May. At the time, the developers had no options of going to Ehren Cutoff because they couldn’t come to terms with a neighboring landowner to purchase his property.
But that changed last month when Southern Crafted asked to meet with Pasco County officials again, this time to talk about amending its plan, cutting through cropland property currently owned by Steven Brewer. This new parcel has more than 27 acres, including a 6,000-square-foot house built in 2007, according to county property records. It was part of a larger land purchase Brewer made in 2001 for $700,000.
The amended plan for Pristine Lakes filed on Friday, however, would only use a portion of the property, suggesting it may be divided. Southern Crafted did not return a request last week for comment.
County officials had yet to fully review the amended plan, but there is a chance that the developer will have to deal with existing wetlands on the new tract, according to county planner Corelynn Burns.
“I’m just looking at this for the first time, and I see there is a wetland through there,” Burns said. “That may or may not be an issue.”
With the additional land, Southern Crafted also is asking the county to allow 60 more homes in the project, bringing the total to 180. Pristine Lakes, in its current form, involves 61 acres of land, not including the 27 acres currently owned by Brewer. John and Theresa Edwards own the primary land in the project, with the original plan calling for an additional 7 acres along Fletch Road owned by Leonard Gerage.
The Gerage property, however, appears to be no longer part of the project, according to the amended development plans.
One aspect of the revised Pristine Lakes that worries Smith, however, is that an emergency access road to her street still remains.
“Our street is just not suited for that,” Smith said. “We wouldn’t be happy with this going through.”
Using Fletch Road was problematic for Pristine Lakes, primarily because of its size, and the fact that it’s an indirect road leading to U.S. 41. Cars would have to travel Fletch, then turn onto Barcellona Road, before finally reaching the main highway, also known as Land O’ Lakes Boulevard.
The property is located at the gravel end of Fletch Road, neighboring the Silver Lakes community that includes homes owned by Smith and 40 others.
Ehren Cutoff always was the preferred route because access would be direct, Burns said, and it would remove potential traffic problems on U.S. 41 as people tried to turn in and out.
If Pristine Lakes needs an emergency access, however, the project needs to consider Caliente Boulevard to the west instead, Smith said.
“It’s already wide enough, and there’s nobody on it,” she said.
Such a change would still need approval from the Pasco County Commission, but the changes likely wouldn’t come before them until early next year.
Published November 19, 2014
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