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Newland Communities plans 2,352-acre project for Apollo Beach

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The builder of FishHawk Ranch and Mira Bay is working on a site plan for a new development.

By PENNY FLETCHER

APOLLO BEACH — The builder of FishHawk Ranch in Riverview and Mira Bay in Apollo Beach is working on a site plan for a new development to be built in several stages totaling 2,352 acres located between Big Bend Road in Riverview and Ruskin’s 19th Avenue on the east side of U.S. 41.

The development is called Waterset and although still in the very preliminary stages, has a one-page Web site at http://waterset.com where it describes the planned community as “a real town, one that starts with a sense of arrival, of coming home, with tree-lined streets and meaningful landmarks. A community that features special gathering places where one can go at any given time and see familiar faces. Places of recreation, culture, education and entertainment, all serving as ports of entry for residents, newcomers and visitors.”

Although no one from Newland Communities returned calls for this story, Newland representative Tom Griggs spoke briefly about the development at the last two U.S. 41 Overlay meetings that are being held monthly at the South Shore Regional Library.

“It is still in the very preliminary stages,” Griggs said to the group July 19 and Aug. 25. He also pointed to a county slide of the project and explained the basics of what it showed.

Since the last meeting county planners supplied the map showing with this story to The Observer News and Riverview Current along with basic information about the project’s approved land uses.

“The land was purchased from many separate owners over a lengthy period of time,” said county planner John Healey, who has worked on South County projects for many years. “The project has a total acreage of 2,352 and a land use plan has been approved. Site plans, however are preliminary.”

Too preliminary, probably, for Newland to want to discuss.

The map and county public records do show, however, that there will be two sections; one called Waterset North and one Waterset South. Several other entities are involved besides Hillsborough County as any side walks or new lanes, including turn-lanes and entrance easements along the portion that borders U.S. 41 will have to be done in cooperation with the Florida Department of Transportation, as 41 is a state highway, not belonging to the county. Roads within the development will be a combination of FDOT and county responsibility, to be determined at a later date.

There is also a strip of land within the development’s borders that belongs to Tampa Electric Company.

Several roadway extensions already are shown, however, including an east-west extension of Apollo Beach Boulevard, and Leisey Road going at least as far as Interstate 75 (where the county’s latest map of the project stops).
A new road, Waterset Drive, also shows on the map as running east-west through the middle of the development and then turning north-south and leading to Big Bend Road.

On the extreme eastern side of the property, some of which borders Ruskin’s rural 33rd Street, an 80-acre regional sports complex is shown. There is a notation on the land use map that says the county “may determine if this portion of the project is necessary.”

The proposed sports complex area is adjacent to wetlands that are preserved, and are not buildable.

As for housing, the plans currently call for allowing 483 single-family residences in the north side, and 1,005 units on the south side, totaling 3,162 homes.

On the plans, 991 “attached residences” are also approved. They are not marked as “town homes” or “apartments” but just “attached units” at this time.

A Village Center, several clusters of business areas, and a 29-acre park are also shown, as well as both a new elementary and middle school on the east side, near what is currently marked as “sports complex.”

“There are four separate zonings which are appropriate to consider when doing the Apollo Beach plan,” Healey said. “But Waterset isn’t doing anything right now.”

“Since the DRI (Development of Regional Impact) gives some entitlements, it is appropriate to consider the possibility of an Apollo Beach Town Center somewhere in the Waterset community on a portion that borders U.S. 41 (in the overlay area),” Healey continued.

To that end, the county has drawn a map showing the area it would like to see such a center, but no agreement to build one has yet been negotiated.

Healey wants to be sure people realize three separate plans are being mentioned in this story, even though it is about the new Newland development.

Because some of Newland’s land is in the area where the county is considering an 8-mile “overlay” (extra zoning requirements above and beyond what is generally expected) along U.S. 41 from Big Bend Road to 19th Avenue in Ruskin, it is also spoken about at the overlay meetings.

Meanwhile, the requirements of the Apollo Beach Community Plan – already made, yet still a work in progress as new structures are built and new businesses arrive — must also be considered.

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