K-Bar Ranch residents feel mislead about road plans
NEW TAMPA It was Alex Mujica’s dream home with views of a picturesque, serene conservation area in the secluded K-Bar Ranch subdivision. That serenity was broken recently by construction workers leveling trees and undergrowth to carve a path for a future road behind his charming two-story, five-bedroom house. Mujica, a 32-year-old businessman, has no plans to walk away from his investment, but he is concerned about his ability to sell it later. “I feel like I have been misled,” Mujica said. “If I had been told about the road, I would not have bought this lot.”It is a sentiment shared by many who live on Water Maple Drive, a street lined with 4- and 5-bedroom houses built by Mobley Homes that dead ends in a cul-de-sac near the proposed road project. They want answers and hope to get some money back for premium lots they bought in the affluent development. The residents said they all paid Mobley Homes between $15,000 and $20,000 more for premium lots to enjoy views of a tree-lined conservation area that draws abundant wildlife. They were drawn to the tranquility and access to nature K-Bar offered. They were willing to pay more than $300,000 for 4-bedroom and 5-bedroom houses in a corner of the city with miles of undeveloped land for new roads and houses. But Mujica and his neighbors said they didn’t know about plans for a proposed east-west corridor through the community when they bought their home sites within the past year and a half. The residents who live on the north side of Water Maple Drive were shocked to learn the road was plotted to run directly behind the properties of several homeowners. Their neighbors on the south side of the street were just as concerned about the safety of their children who play and ride their bicycles in the cul-de-sac. In 2001, the city of Tampa agreed to annex the 2,280-acre K-Bar Ranch tract, extending the city limits to the Hillsborough-Pasco county line. The 2001 annexation agreement allowed for 1,599 units. The proposed east-west corridor in K-Bar was approved as part of the development agreement. Mobley Homes, which was the primary developer at K-Bar until recently, signed an agreement with the city in December to approve the road and water main improvements and the right of way dedication. M/I Homes, which rezoned a portion of the ranch to build 600 homes in Easton Park off Morris Bridge Road, recently acquired the development rights for K-Bar. It now is the developer responsible for infrastructure improvements. Mujica learned about the proposed road shortly before he closed on his new house in June. He said he was assured the road would not be an issue, so he completed the purchase as planned. “When I first moved in, I didn’t think about a road coming through,” Mujica said. He later saw a surveyor behind his property but didn’t give it much thought, he said. All that changed a couple of weeks ago when workers on bull dozers began knocking down trees and brush just beyond Mujica’s property line. The large machines carved a path to within inches of Mujica’s water sprinkler system and a few feet from his back porch. Mujica’s bought a sizeable lot with no neighbors in close proximity on either side with plans of putting in a backyard pool. Those plans are now in doubt. Mujica said Mobley and M/I Homes sales representatives continue to tell him there are no immediate plans to build the road. He was told the land was being prepared to install a water main and utilities, but there is no timeline or available funds to build a road, Mujica said. Neither Mobley nor M/I Homes officials could be reached for comment. Last week, the city installed a white PVC fence behind Mujica’s property and adjacent to the cul-de-sac on Water Maple Drive, city planner Tom Snelling said. It will serve as a temporary buffer until M/I Homes, the new primary developer at K-Bar, builds a permanent structure. Mujica and his neighbors want M/I Homes to erect an 8-foot concrete block wall. It will wipe out their scenic views but shield them from the sight and sounds of traffic, if or when, the road is built. “We have always maintained the road will be built,” Snelling said. When completed, the unnamed road will stretch west from Kinnan Street through the K-Bar and Easton Park communities to eventually connect with Morris Bridge Road. The primary developer at K-Bar will be responsible for designing and building the road, which will initially serve two-way traffic. It will eventually be expanded to a four-lane, divided roadway as development grows in parcels O and Q near the Hillsborough-Pasco county line. Mujica said he loves the neighborhood and wants to stay. He hopes Mobley is willing to work with the residents to satisfy their concerns. “I’m hoping they will do the right thing and live up to their promise,” he said.